Liberia Excluded from Canadian Government Debt Relief

By Geepu Nah Tiepoh
Jan 8, 2001

Last month the Canadian federal government, through Finance Minister Paul Martin, announced a moratorium on debt payments from all heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) owing Canada. The minister was delivering on an initiative he launched during meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Prague last September, at which he publicly requested that all creditor governments suspend debt interest payments from poor countries. Federal sources say the initiative "will let most of Canada's poorest debtors off the hook for interest payments until the IMF, World Bank and creditor countries work out a permanent plan to forgive the countries' debts completely", according to the Globe and Mail (December 19, 2000).

Canada is currently owed about $1.1 billion by 17 of the 41 countries classified as HIPCs by the World Bank and IMF. The seventeen are Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, and Sudan. Eleven of these countries, with a total debt amounting to some $700 million, immediately begin benefiting from the moratorium as of January 1, this year. However, the remaining six countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, and the Ivory Coast, will not qualify until they are "fully committed to the principles of peaceful development and good governance, including the protection of human rights".

While exclusion from the Canadian debt relief plan may practically mean nothing to the Liberian rulers (since in any case, they have not been making payments on the $4.5 million owed the Canadian government), it further reflects the country's continuing international isolation under a clique that has no genuine interest in development, but enjoys reckless and self-paralyzing political adventures.

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