Rep. Maxine Waters urges IMF and World Bank to cancel Haiti's debts
December 12, 2006
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Rep. Maxine Waters urges IMF and World Bank to cancel Haiti's debts

Washington, D.C. - On Capitol Hill on Friday, December 8, 2006, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter to Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank, and Dr. Rodrigo de Rato, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), urging them to support immediate and complete cancellation of Haiti's multilateral debts. The letter follows a November 22 determination by the IMF and the World Bank that Haiti qualifies for limited debt relief.

Rep. Waters' letter was signed by 11 Members of Congress who are original cosponsors of H.Res. 888, a bipartisan resolution introduced by Rep. Waters to urge the IMF, the World Bank and other multilateral financial institutions to provide complete debt cancellation to Haiti. This resolution has a total of 65 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. The text of the letter follows:

We welcome the determination of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which was announced on November 22, that Haiti has reached the decision point and qualifies for limited debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Nevertheless, we are concerned that the limited debt relief available for countries that reach the decision point will not be sufficient to address Haiti's needs. Therefore, we urge you to support immediate and complete cancellation of Haiti's multilateral debts.

Over the past year, Haiti returned to democratic rule following a period of political instability and violence that lasted over two years. On May 14, 2006, Rene Garcia Preval was sworn in as the President of Haiti. President Preval was elected on February 7, during democratic elections in which 2.2 million Haitians - more than 60 percent of registered voters - participated. President Preval's election was a sign of hope for the people of Haiti who have suffered tremendously from poverty, violence and natural disasters. The newly elected government needs the support and assistance of the international community to ensure national reconciliation and sustainable development for the Haitian people. Debt cancellation is essential to this process.

According to the IMF, Haiti owes over one billion dollars to multilateral financial institutions, including $21.4 million to the IMF, $507.1 million to the World Bank, and $534.0 million to the Inter-American Development Bank. Much of this debt burden was accumulated during the oppressive rule of the Duvalier regime, which did not use the money for the benefit of the Haitian people. Unfortunately, the IMF currently estimates that Haiti will have to wait at least two more years before receiving full cancellation of its multilateral debts.

Earlier this year, we introduced H.Res. 888 in the House of Representatives. This resolution urges the IMF, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral financial institutions to provide Haiti complete debt cancellation immediately. The cancellation of Haiti's debts will enable the newly-elected government to reduce poverty; improve health care, education and other essential government services; invest in critical infrastructure; and improve the lives of the Haitian people. This resolution now has 65 cosponsors.

We urge you to use your influence to ensure that Haiti receives complete cancellation of its multilateral debts without further delays. We appreciate your efforts to assist Haiti in its development, and we look forward to your response and to working with you to free the people of Haiti from the tremendous burden of multilateral debts.

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