CADTM France calls for debt relief in quake zone

28 December 2004 by Agence France Presse

French non-governemental body calls for debt relief in quake zone.

PARIS, Dec 28 (AFP) - A French non-governmental body campaigning for debt relief in poor countries called on Tuesday for total cancellation of debts owed by countries hit by earthquake-spawned tidal waves in South Asia.

The organisation, CADTM France, urged “total cancellation of the external debt” of countries devastated by the tsunami.
The organisation asked in a statement: “In these circumstances, how can one understand that western countries and their companies, the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

and other creditors can continue to demand repayment by countries so hard hit..?

The CADTM called for “total cancellation” of all external debts owed by the affected countries, and generally of all debt owed by developing countries, each of which, in different ways, was surviving “social and human” disaster.
These countries were repaying “colossal” sums but could not provide the vital necessities of life to their populations.
Cancellation of their debts is now a minimum moral requirement,” CADTM said.

Source: AFP, Dec 28, 2004.



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