HIPC debt relief is not the solution

Public Agenda (Accra) / Editorial

HIPC was a necessary evil – we agree. We also recognize that it is a stop-gap measure that addresses the symptoms of our under-development, rather than the causes – a half-hearted response to the ever-growing agitation for total debt cancellation that characterized the 1990s.

But, even total debt cancellation will not solve our problems. At best, it will provide a temporary respite from the excruciating poverty we have known for decades now.

This is why the Public Agenda is not enthused about claims that HIPC is the best thing to happen to this country, for which reason Yaw Osafo Marfo has been voted Africa’s Best Finance Minister of the year. The best thing to happen to this country, in the opinion of the Public Agenda, and which we all ought to fight for, is an equitable, fair, and just world economic order. It is a known fact, that the Developed World take-out more, than they put into the economies of the developing countries. They give us a dollar with the right hand, and take $10.00 with the left. They work through the multilateral finance and trading systems to impose rules and policies, which further their economic interests, to our detriment.

Not that our leaders are not aware of the machinations, they certainly are, but they simply feel helpless. They probably know what to do, but cannot do it because the paymasters will not let them.

The multilateral finance and trading institutions understand one language – public pressure. And for as long as civil society in this country keep quiet, our governments would be taken for a ride. We need activists to conscientise the masses to oppose policies which are inimical to the good of society, irrespective of which party is in power. But above all, we need a leader – one with a vision, and passion, to work with the masses in pursuit of that vision. Someone the people can trust to lead them. Kwame Nkrumah had such opportunity, and he used it in building the infrastructure base for our economic take-off. The former President Jerry Rawlings also had it, when he first came on the scene. He had the trust and goodwill of the people. The spirit of voluntarism and self-sacrifice was at its peak. Sadly, he lost it somewhere along the journey. JAK also has some goodwill, but so far he has not been able to use it to mobilize the people around a long term vision. Our world under Kufuor does not go beyond the whims and caprices of the Bretton Woods.

Who is next?

Public Agenda (Accra) is a Ghanaian weekly independent newspaper.


Categories: Africa, Foreign Aid, Odious Debts

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