Wednesday, July 01, 2009

2/3rds of Haiti's debt canceled

$1.2 billion dollars of Haiti's debt was canceled yesterday by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The two mega banks have an debt cancellation program, where a country can have their debts forgiven as long as they do mandated changes to the way the country operates.

Haiti had to do some audits, adopt new laws and change debt reporting. Haiti did all of this while suffering through food riots and four tropical storms last year.

From the St. Augustine Record, Jonathan Katz tells us more on how the debt forgiveness will ease Haiti's situation.

The actions erased nearly two-thirds of Haiti's outstanding debt. As of April, Haiti owned more than $1.9 billion, according to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

"This is a pretty big victory, definitely. This is what we've been wanting," said Dan Beeton, an analyst with the center, said by phone from Washington. "It's a shame it had to take so long."

Until now, the desperately poor country, where more than 80 percent of its approximately 9 million people live on less than $2 a day, has been paying about $1.6 million each month to the World Bank, according to debt relief advocates at the Jubilee USA Network.

A significant portion of the debt forgiven Tuesday dates back to loans that lined the pockets of Haiti's dictators, especially Francois "Papa Doc" and Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, whose father-son dynasty ended in a 1986 popular rebellion.

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