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JDC Web   February Brief

After a period of silence from JDC Web Group, this brief is largely prompted by the opportunity to keep Debt on the political agenda by protesting at the blocking of Ethiopia’s funding for debt relief.  JDC and Jubilee Research have asked everyone to lobby hard on this issue.  Please read the brief below and email your protests to the national representatives on the World Bank/IMF as requested by JDC.  Whilst Ethiopia is being denied agreed debt relief, Gordon Brown and James Wolfensohn (Director World Bank) have been calling for a new deal for the world’s poor (through the International Finance Facility).  It would be a good opportunity to point out that the World Bank is reneging on its commitments to lift the poorest countries out of unsustainable debt.  Please write to Gordon Brown who represents Britain on the WB/IMF Boards protesting and write to your MP asking them to table a question to the Chancellor.  Ethiopia is they key action request in this brief

Items in February’s Brief:-

v      Ethiopia denied top-up debt relief–go to

v      JDC Annual Conference March 27 -go to

v      Blair to lead report into poverty! go to

v      Gordon Brown’s speech at the conference ‘Making globalisation work for all - the challenge of delivering the Monterrey consensus’ go to

v      World Debt Day – May 16th go to

v      IMF recommends debt relief for Nigeria! go to

v      Guyana finally gets debt relief go to



The USA (along with Germany and Japan) is blocking debt relief that would make Ethiopia’s debt burden sustainable (by World Bank criteria!).  Due to the collapse of coffee prices and changes in interest rates Ethiopia’s debt burden would be considered far too high (the debt to export ratio would be 220% against a maximum set by the WB of 150%).  The USA is blocking the additional $700M debt relief recommended by WB/IMF.  Moreover, because the debt burden is then un-sustainable, the Bank cannot make further loans.  Gotcha!!


Please protest this injustice –email the Bank representatives (list below), write to Gordon Brown, get your MP to ask questions.


Summary background

v      Ethiopia has a population of almost 70 million. Nearly half (44%), live below the poverty line

v      The price of Ethiopia’s major export, coffee, has fallen 73 per cent in 20 years.

v      The Ethiopian drought of 2003 was one of the worst in history and cut agricultural production and exports

v      GDP per capita is as low as US$89 per year compared to US of US$36,300

v      The country is almost bottom of the UNDP’s human development league: 169th out of 175.

v      Infant mortality is as high as 116 per thousand

v      47 per cent of children under five suffer from malnutrition

v      Only 24 per cent of Ethiopians have access to clean water sources


Blocking the top-up funding will cost Ethiopia $35m/annum which could be spent on Poverty reduction programs.


For a full explanation see Jubilee Research http://www.jubileeresearch.org/analysis/reports/ethiopia130204.htm 


Please email the national representatives on the World Bank.  Basically the same message, but modified to encourage those who are not against the funding to pressurise USA, Germany and Japan.

Use you own words or modify this

Dear Etc.,

HIPC Debt relief rules say that at Completion a country’s debts must be sustainable and that if not they must get top-up relief. I have been informed that some countries (USA and Germany and Japan) are trying to block this. This will hit poor countries like Ethiopia and Niger (whose cases are currently under consideration) very hard. For example:

v      Almost half of Ethiopia's 70 million people live below the poverty line - it is they who will pay for the USA and Germany's attempt to change the rules.

v      UNDP Human Development Indicator is 169 out of 175

v      Ethiopia is currently very vulnerable economically, due to the low price of coffee (its major export).  Commodity prices have fallen steadily for decades and are unlikely to recover.

v      Loss of top-up relief will cost Ethiopia $35 million p.a., which should be spent on poverty relief.

The World Bank is supposed to be committed to meeting the MDGs.  Please ensure that the World Bank and IMF stick to the rules on topping up and make sure that poor countries get the urgent debt relief for which they have qualified.


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Send your email to as many of the following as possible:

bulletUSA - Carole Brookins cbrookins@worldbank.org
bulletGermany - Eckhard Deutscher mailto:edeutscher@worldbank.org  
bulletUnited Kingdom - Tom Scholar mailto:tscholar@worldbank.org
bulletFrance - Pierre Duquesne pduquesne@worldbank.org
bulletItaly - Biagio Bossone bbossone@worldbank.org
bulletRussian Federation - Alexey G. Kvasov akvasov@worldbank.org
bulletCanada - Marcel Masse mailto:mmasse@worldbank.org
bulletJapan - Yuzo Harada yharada@worldbank.org
bulletJames D. Wolfenson, President World Bank jwolfenson@worldbank.org
bulletHorst Köhler, Managing Director IMF mailto:hkohler@imf.org

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Write and protest to Gordon Brown (The Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, HM Treasury, Parliament Street, London, SW1P 3AG) who represents Britain on the boards of the World Bank and the IMF.  Point out that for all the imperatives of the IFF, which has still not been accepted by America, the priority should be to insist that initiatives and rules that have been agreed are adhered to first.


Write to you MP, (to find your MP use link http://www.locata.co.uk/commons/ ) and summarise Ethiopia’s position.  Ask them to table a question of Gordon Brown such as, ‘What are the grounds for the World Bank/IMF delaying the completion agreement for Ethiopia’s HIPC debt relief?’  Or ‘Would the chancellor accept that if the top-up debt relief due to Ethiopia is denied, Ethiopia’s debt would be unsustainable and that Ethiopia will be denied $35M/a towards meeting the MDG goals?’



JDC Annual Conference - Saturday 27 March 2004, 12:00 – 18:00

'Fighting poverty - Challenging the rules', 

University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY

Participants include:
HILARY BENN MP (Secretary of State for International Development)
NOREENA HERTZ (Academic and author on globalisation)
ALEX WILKS (Bretton Woods Project)
MUHAMMAD IMRAN (Islamic Relief)
THE WORLD BANK (Speaker tba)
SILJE HAGERUP (SLUG - Norwegian Student Debt Network)
World Development Movement


Entry is free but places are limited. For full details and to book a place please call JDC on 020 7324 4728 or visit www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk 



Blair to lead report into Poverty and Inequality in Africa

Tony Blair has said he wants to crown his premiership - by becoming the architect of a report to end world poverty, The Sunday Herald Reports.

After a series of private meetings at Downing Street  with Sir Bob Geldof over several months, Tony Blair is to author an "age-defining" report similar to that produced by former German Chancellor Willy Brandt in the late 1970s. In his wide-ranging report, Brandt argued that trade liberalisation was needed to eradicate long-term poverty and to encourage development in poorer nations.

Now, with Blair set to have unrivalled global political influence holding presidency of both the European Union and the G8 summit next year, Geldof said he wants the Prime Minister to make the blueprint to eradicate poverty and Aids his legacy. Blair is also under pressure from 30 charities, including Jubilee Debt Campaign, Oxfam and Chistian Aid, to break with the "gesture politics" of past summits.

They have written to the Prime Minister to urge him to step up pressure on the other G8 countries to back Chancellor Gordon Brown's international financing facility, which would mobilise the extra $50 billion (£27bn) the UN estimates is needed to meet poverty goals.


Gordon Brown speech http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/newsroom_and_speeches/press/2004/press_12_04.cfm


Gordon Brown's speech to the conference today (Monday 16th Feb 2004) on “MAKING GLOBALISATION WORK FOR ALL - THE CHALLENGE OF DELIVERING THE MONTERREY CONSENSUS” is well worth reading.

It’s a remarkable, passionate speech, seeking to embrace the faith and commitment of NGOs and campaigners.  It more or less sets out the failure of the rich countries to meet the MDG obligations.  Its only specific initiative is his IFF.  But it seems to contain what one must assume is an agreed position with Tony, that the 2005 presidency of the G8/EU will be a 'Development Presidency'.  Underlying the speech is the question ‘is there the political will to meet the Millennium Development Goals?’  Unfortunately, given the minimal world support for the IFF, the speech really illustrates how little political will really exists and how hard it’s going to be to make the MDGs a reality.  Which underlines why he is calling on (needs) campaigners to support him!

Here’s a summary of Gordon Brown’s own assessment of status and prospects:-

But we know already that the first target to be set and to be met – the 2005 target that ensures for girls the same opportunities in primary and secondary education as boys - is going to be missed. Not only are the vast majority - 60 per cent of developing countries - unlikely to meet the target but most of these are, on present trends, unlikely to achieve this gender equality for girls even by 2015.  This is not good enough – this is not the promise that we made.

Take education.  Yes, in the past decade, primary enrolments have increased at twice the rate of the 1980s.  But consider the 115 million children – 80 million boys and girls in Africa and south and west Asia – who did not go to school this Monday morning. 

To reach our education goals requires 80 million new primary school places in Africa alone over the coming decade and at the current rate of progress more than 70 countries will fail to achieve universal primary education by our target date, and in sub-Saharan Africa we will not achieve what we committed to by 2015 until at the earliest 2129.  This is not good enough – the promise we made was for 2015 not 2129.

Take health, Just as the numbers of illiterate have halved in the last 40 years so too life expectancy in developing countries has increased in the last forty years by 20 years.  And to date with nearly 5 billion dollars pledged to the global health fund some poor countries have shown we can stem the spread of HIV/AIDS and half TB deaths.  But because inexpensive cures are not funded, 2 million die unnecessarily each year from tuberculosis, 1 million die painfully from malaria - curable diseases - 40 million are suffering from HIV/AIDS, and, tragically, on current forecasts sub Saharan Africa will achieve our target for reducing child mortality not by 2015 but by 2165.   This is not good enough – the promise we made was for 2015 not 2165.

And let us be clear: it is not that the knowledge to avoid these infant deaths does not exist; it is not that the drugs to avoid infant deaths do not exist; it is not that the expertise does not exist; it is not that the means to achieve our goals do not exist.  It is that the political will does not exist. In the nineteenth century you could say that it was inadequate science, technology and knowledge that prevented us saving lives. Now, with the science, technology and knowledge available, we must face the truth that the real barrier is indifference. 

So the Millennium target for a two thirds reduction in child deaths - that can most easily be met because there are available medicines and cures - is not being met and will not be met simply because the world doesn’t care enough.  And today and every day 30,000 infant lives are being lost. This is not good enough – the obligation we promised to honour for sub-Saharan Africa was not for 2165 but for 2015.

And take our Millennium global poverty target. Although the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen by 10 per cent in the last ten years, there are one billion people still living on less than $1 a day.  And without greatly increased growth, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the transition economies of Europe and Central Asia will all fail to see the halving of their poverty by 2015.  Our best estimate is that it will not be achieved in sub Saharan Africa for more than a hundred years. This is not good enough – the dream we dreamed was not for 2147 but for 2015.

Gordon effectively sets out the challenge for the political will


So when the need is pressing, when it is our generation that has made historic commitments, the simple questions that, to use the words of an American President, we must ask are:

If not now – when?
If not us, who?
If not together, how?

Not left to some other time and some other people but now and us, working together

This is how he sets out the political objectives


And I propose we all – all of us who believe that globalisation must also mean justice on a global scale - commit ourselves to a specific course of action, and then each of us as partners – government, business, NGOs and faith groups, international institutions – agree to work together to make the radical changes required. And as Tony Blair has said: for the sake of Africa and the poorest countries we will make our 2005 G8 presidency a ‘Development Presidency’.

Put simply, our proposal is that in return for developing countries developing their own country owned, community owned poverty reduction plans to expand their own development, investment and trade, and eliminate corruption:

·         we, the richest countries, commit the $10 billion needed each year for education for all

·         we, the richest countries, release at least $10 billion for tackling Aids, TB, and malaria

·         we finance sustainable debt relief

·         we finance, for the poorest countries, the building of capacity to trade

·         and that we do so by increasing development aid, on the road to 0.7 per cent of GDP, and by, immediately, creating an International Finance Facility that, by leveraging in an additional $50 billion each year until 2015, brings forward the development aid and investment that is essential to meet the Millennium Goals


World Debt Day –May 16th


JDC is calling on all campaign groups to make May 16th World Debt Day ahead of the G8 meeting in June. 


It would be good to have ideas for how JDC Web Group could respond, appropriately (email to supporters@jdc-web.org.uk ).  Current thinking is along the lines of designing a graphic showing the importance of debt relief to achieving the Millennium Development Goals to be emailed to key figures just to illustrate ‘World Debt Day’.  We would ask supporters to cascade requests for the action to friends and contacts that might be sympathetic and try and get everyone to email on May 16th.


Other ideas and any good ideas for a graphic would of course be welcome.



IMF Acknowledges Nigeria Badly Needs Debt Relief

Nigeria was one of the Jubilee 2000 countries but was excluded from the 42 HIPC countries by the IMF/WB
Nigeria's creditors have for the first time acknowledged the country's pressing need for debt relief. The Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO) Muhtar Mansar said "The IMF have done a very detailed study on debt sustainability analysis, taking into account Nigeria's budget projection situation and it shows that Nigeria really needs debt relief”.  He also said that there was a lot of sympathy for Nigeria on the issue, particularly from the UK, the country's largest creditor from the Paris Club. Twenty-five per cent of Nigeria's  Paris Club debt belongs to the UK.

In the past Nigeria has had many difficulties qualifying for debt relief despite being one of the world's poorest countries. In 1998 Nigeria was dropped from the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) list.  The debt was largely built up by military regimes that have cursed Nigeria. A large proportion of the debt is owed to the British government and was lent to Nigeria almost entirely during this era of military dictatorship


Another great opportunity to insist that the Government lives up to its rhetoric in a situation in which it can’t pass the buck to the IMF/WB!


Guyana Finally Gets Debt Cancellation

'A big day for all the people of the country' -

After a delay of four years, Guyana has become the ninth country to have its debts reduced under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC). The 54% reduction raises hopes that, unlike other countries that have passed through HIPC, it will now be on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  Predictions indicate that Guyana will save US$30 million annually, on average, over 10 years. The President stressed that the savings will go to the social services, enabling increased spending on health, housing, water and education, as well as stimulating economic activity


This is great news for the people of Guyana but we must remember

v      This is only the 9th Country out of 42 HIPC countries to reach completion after 5 years! (note Tony Blair told Parliament after the Cologne G8 in 1999-“We have agreed that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund should take steps to ensure that at least three quarters of eligible countries get the benefits of debt relief by the end of next year”  in practice it’s less than one quarter in 5 years!

v      Completion has only been achieved by accepting IMF conditionalities that have not been made public!  (So much for open and transparent governance!)



Jubilee Web Group - last updated  18 Februar 2004