Campaigner pressure pays off at IMF
22 December 2005Tens of thousands of campaigners have successfully persuaded the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not to backtrack on G8 promises. In late December 2005, Jubilee Debt Campaign and partners around the world alerted debt campaigners to attempts by IMF staff to deny or delay debt relief for six of the 18 countries in 2005. Campaigners responded swiftly, sending more than 20,000 emails to directors at the IMF ahead of a crucial meeting on 21 December. The impact was fantastic: despite worrying indications that debt cancellation would be delayed, the meeting approved IMF debt relief for 17 of the 18 countries in the original proposals, as well as two extras. Thank you to all those who took action. Of the original 18 countries in the G8 proposal, only Mauritania is now experiencing delays in receiving debt cancellation. This is reportedly because of concerns over accountability and financial reporting, but its case will be reconsidered in six months' time. Two extra countries - Cambodia and Tajikistan - have been included just for IMF debt cancellation. This is because of the rules governing the use of funds in one of the IMF accounts that is financing the cancellation: although neither Cambodia nor Tajikistan is officially classed as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) they are both poorer than many HIPCs, so IMF directors decided that in order to treat all poor countries equally, they should be included. The 19 qualifying countries will get cancellation of all debts to the IMF on loans agreed before the end of 2004. This will come into effect from January 2006, and will total around $3.3 billion of debt cancellation in total. The World Bank and African Development Fund cancellation - also in the original G8 proposal - should be finalised and agreed in the first half of 2006. That this deal has come into effect at all is a tribute to the tireless efforts of campaigners over many years - and their determination to ensure that debt cancellation is not just promised, but actually delivered. Background
In summer 2005, world leaders promised immediate and irrevocable debt cancellation for 18 countries. But in December 2005, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its plan for delivering their side of this debt cancellation. It announced that the 18 countries had to pass another economic test in order to receive debt cancellation from January 2006. These countries have already had to spend years complying with harmful and undemocratic conditions - such as privatising industries, cutting spending and abolishing support for their own farmers and producers - in order to qualify for previous debt relief.
IMF staff were pushing for six countries - Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Senegal - to fail this test, meaning their debt cancellation would have been delayed - costing yet more lives - and made dependent on yet more damaging economic policy conditions. Jubilee Debt Campaign asked all supporters to take action before a crucial meeting on 21 December, and urge IMF directors not to deny or delay promised debt relief. Campaigners responded impressively, and the threatened delays were mostly prevented. THANK YOU!
Countries in the original G8 proposal which have qualified for IMF debt cancellation:
Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Countries in the original G8 proposal which have NOT qualified for IMF debt cancellation:
Mauritania Countries not in the original G8 proposal which have qualified for IMF debt cancellation (non-HIPC countries):