IMF, Shareholders Failing Liberia

Debt Campaigners to Bush Administration, IMF: No more delays! Cancel Liberia’s Debt Now!

Press Release Issued By Africa Action and Jubilee USA Network

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 22, 2007


Sunday, October 21, 2007 (Washington, DC) Today Africa Action and Jubilee USA Network reacted with outrage today as the International Monetary Fund failed to clear the arrears owed by Liberia to the Fund, a necessary step before Liberia can access life-saving debt cancellation.

“The IMF and its main shareholders ought to be ashamed of their broken promises to Liberia”, said Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of 80 religious denominations, development agencies, and human rights groups.

“Liberia has met all of the onerous requirements demanded by the IMF to access debt cancellation, and they have gotten nothing in return. Meanwhile, the impoverished majority in Liberia pays the price for the IMF’s inaction”.

Liberia’s debt to the IMF, the World Bank, and other creditors totals more than $4.5 billion. Much of this debt is odious or illegitimate in nature, having been run up by the brutal regime of Samuel Doe, with no benefit to the people. During years of civil war, Liberia failed to make its scheduled payments, resulting in huge arrears which the IMF insists must be cleared before Liberia can enter the debt cancellation process.

“Liberia's debt and the arrears are both the result of irresponsible lending. Every delay amplifies this injustice; now is the time for

accountability on the part of the creditors”, said Marie Clarke Brill, Interim Executive Director at Africa Action.

Shareholders at the IMF have been working for more than 18 months to devise a plan to clear the $800 million in arrears the country owes to the IMF. A complex formula to mobilize the needed resources has been developed, but a funding gap of $60-90 million remains. IMF shareholders are currently debating who should cover the remaining costs. Some argue the G-8 should chip in more; others argue that the IMF should use its substantial internal resources to make up the difference; while others argue middle-income countries should do more to contribute their fair share.

“The IMF is playing a blame game rather than investing the time and energy necessary to come up with the remaining cash. The reality is that IMF management, the Bush administration, and other leading shareholders all share responsibility for this failure” said Watkins. While the Bush administration has been active, they are not doing enough. If this administration is serious about supporting Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President Bush and Secretary Paulson need to drop what they are doing, get on the phone with key shareholders and make a deal or cough up the extra money themselves now.

Additional Contacts: Neil Watkins - 202-421-1023 or Kristin Sundell - 443-845-4461, Jubilee USA Network; Marie Clarke Brill, Africa Action - 202-255-7849; Emira Woods, Foreign Policy in Focus, 301-523-2979

© 2007 by The Perspective

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