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Press release
The CADTM demands urgent measures to save a starving and indebted Niger
27 August 2005

It is a well-known fact that the people of Niger are hungry. Several million lives are under threat from famine, for which the climate and locusts are far from being the only ones to blame.

If the international financial institutions are to be believed, Niger is a docile model pupil. It reached the completion point of the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) initiative in April 2004, which should theoretically have given it the right to have its debt reduced. To reach that point had meant going through all the usual stages imposed by the IMF and the World Bank: drastic reductions in social spending and subsidies for basic goods; increased VAT; privatisation programmes; trade liberalisation and unfair competition for local producers from multinational companies. The official discourse was reassuring: the money thus freed up was to be used for human development.

The social struggles of March 2005 proved that it has not been. The population’s living conditions have continued to worsen. Mass mobilisation forced the government to withdraw some of its grimmer projects: VAT at 19 % was not applied to milk and flour, and finally, only to large-scale consumption of water and electricity.

The process set in motion by structural adjustment as imposed by the debt mechanism is still hitting Niger hard. Blaring announcements of debt reduction like those of the G8 leaders in June 2005 make no difference as they do not touch the foundations of the economic model.

Today, Niger is suffering more than ever from hunger and debt. Because of the debt, most economic decisions affecting Niger are no longer made in Niamey and only serve the interests of the major powers of the North and local potentates. Niger’s own government has been an accomplice in reducing the role of the State to the barest minimum. The State is unable to guarantee basic human rights.

For these reasons the CADTM demands the total and unconditional cancellation of Niger’s external public debt and that the neo-liberal policies imposed by the creditors should be abandoned. Such measures will free up money that must serve to finance social and agricultural policies determined and run by Nigerians through their citizens’ organisations. It must be made absolutely clear that basic human rights take priority over creditors’ rights.