Experts urge US government to cancel Liberia’s odious debt

Foreign Policy in Focus / Jubilee USA Network, Common Dreams Progressive Newswire

March 15, 2006

News Release: Debt campaigners lobbied the US government for the 100 percent cancellation of Liberia’s odious debts in the lead-up to an address to the US Congress by Liberia’s new president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman president.

“We know that the majority of Liberia’s debt was incurred under past dictators Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. The odious nature of this debt provides a compelling argument for 100% cancellation, especially in the face of humanitarian crises in the country,” said [PDF] Debayani Kar of the Jubilee USA Network.

“We urge the international financial institutions and the US government to take swift action to implement last year’s G-8 debt agreement and cancel Liberia’s debt.”

Liberia’s debts are estimated at some 680 percent of the country’s GDP. Quoting US Treasury Secretary John Snow, in reference to his comments on Iraq, campaigners reiterated that the people “shouldn’t be saddled with those debts incurred through the regime of the dictator who is now gone.”

As it stands, Liberians will “inherit nothing but debt – and ruin,” they say.

Editor’s Note: Odious Debts Online editors agree that Liberia should have no obligation to repay those loans that were used for odious purposes. However, blanket cancellation will only let the negligent and corrupt lenders and borrowers off the hook. Therefore, ODO recommends an immediate moratorium on all debt payments, while a forensic audit of all past loans is conducted. Lenders should be held responsible for allowing funds to be used for odious purposes, reclaiming those missing funds from corrupt parties wherever possible, and absorbing losses, without compensation from northern taxpayers. Legal action against those who have abused the public trust in their fraudulent and corrupt use of public funds should proceed post-haste.

Categories: Africa, Liberia, Odious Debts

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