RP  HAILS  DEBT  WRITE-OFF  FOR  POOR  NATIONS

MANILA, June 19, 2005
 (STAR) The Philippines has hailed the write-off of all multilateral debt owed by the world’s poorest countries but called on the lenders to do more by ending subsidies to their own farm sectors.

The $40-billion pledge by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States concerns debt owed to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank by 18 of the world’s poorest countries, most of them in Africa.

"It is our hope that this action by the world’s industrialized nations will be complemented by other initiatives that will allow the developing nations of the world to make the best of any debt relief program," President Gloria Arroyo said in a statement.

She urged fundamental reforms of the international economic order, topped off with a call that "agricultural subsidies provided by developed nations should be eliminated."

"Access by developing countries to markets, to reasonable financing, to development assistance, to technology and to medicines that are necessary to bring developing nations out of poverty and disease should also be provided," the Philippines leader added.

For the other debtor countries, Arroyo urged the Group of Eight countries to "consider and promote ‘debt-for-development’ swaps, as these will allow developing nations to channel their meager resources to development goals and priorities rather than to servicing a debilitating debt burden."

The Philippines, which was not a beneficiary of the debt write-off, devotes more than 40 percent of its annual budget to servicing debt, including more than $50 billion owed to foreign lenders. – AFP


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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