Debt repudiation possible

Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)

February 10, 2006

“Norway plays a key role in efforts to cancel odious debt,” says Christian Aid’s Jonathan Glennie. The government and opposition are both open to supporting poor countries repudiate their debt.

“To support a country repudiate its debts is something we will have to consider on a case-to-case basis. There may be occasions when it is right to support a country that refuses to pay back its debts,” said Secretary pf State Roger Schjerva from the Norwegian ministry of Finance on Wednesday.

“The (opposition) Progress Party wishes to support the government’s work to cancel illegitimate debt and is positive towards supporting developing countries repudiate their illegitimate debt, both morally and politically,” says Norwegian Member of Parliament Morten Hoglund (Frp).

At the Norwegian launch of Christian Aid’s report “What about us? Debt and the countries the G8 left behind,” the Secretary of State underlined the fact that the government is aware of its responsibilities in this matter, but also that the Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen (Sv) has ambitions that reach beyond his responsibility:

“The Ministry of Finance wishes to play a more offensive role than it has done in the past,” said Schjerva.

The Secretary of State stressed the fact that individual politicians and organisations such as Norwegian Church Aid and Changemaker have been, and are, key actors in ongoing work to cancel debt.

“Norway would not be where it is today on this issue were it not for the efforts of Norwegian Church Aid and Changemaker on the subject of illegitimate debt,” he said.

“Norwegian authorities have come a lot further than their colleagues in the UK. Our politicians still do not recognise that all illegitimate debt should be cancelled, and that it is reprehensible to demand that democratic developing countries service the debts that they have inherited from former dictatorships,” says Glennie.

He points out that it’s not just a question of coming to terms with old debts – but also addressing the issue of irresponsible loans that are granted today and loans that are granted to undemocratic regimes as a link in the war against terror.

“It is important that Norway is at the forefront of the international debt campaign, because this will make it easier for countries like the UK to follow their lead,” says Glennie, the author of Christian Aid’s report.

He explains to the Norwegian audience that the original English title of the report, “What about us?” refers to all the countries that were not among the 19 to be granted debt cancellation following the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July 2005. The question now is whether or not these countries should wait until wealthy nations grant their wishes and cancel their debts, or whether they should take action and do something themselves?

“We believe that the cancellation of illegitimate debt must move away from the realm of charity and into that of justice. There is something fundamentally wrong in the analysis that ‘we should help developing countries.’ These countries have right to be relieved of this economic burden,” Glennie concludes.

Categories: Europe, Norway, Odious Debts

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