Saturday, February 05, 2005

[Global Poverty] Mandela calls for poverty relief

LONDON, Feb. 4 -- Former South African president Nelson Mandela called on the world's richest nations on Friday to give more aid to the world's poorest countries to help them out ofa mire of poverty and debt and strongly backed a British relief plan.

Mandela, who was invited to a meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the G7 wealthiest countries, told the finance chiefs of G7 ahead of a meeting in London that rich nations were able now to write of Africa's debt.

"We are here to claim justice," the frail 86-year-old told the G7 ministers. "Do not delay while poor people continue to suffer," he said, demanding a full write-off of African debt and 50 billionUS dollars extra a year in aid for the next decade.

"I urge you to act tonight," Mandela said.

He said he would accept no half measures. It was an outrage to let Africa sink further into disease and poverty.

Mandela urged the seven countries "do not delay while poor people continue to suffer."

Earlier Friday, John Taylor, US Treasury Under Secretary, rejected Brown's plan for what he calls an International Finance Facility (IFF) that would double existing aid by using rich countries' guarantees to raise money by issuing bonds in the capital markets.

He said the British plan was incompatible with US budgetary rules.

Italian Economy Minister Domenico Siniscalco also said in an interview with Reuters that he appreciated Britain's plan to cancel the debt of the world's poorest countries and open an International Financing Facility, but the proposals lack sufficient backing to pass here.

"If I can be brutal, I agree with Britain's proposal, but the problem here is we need to act now...this evening I will propose that we adopt the IFF on a smaller scale," he said adding that he would propose something more modest.

German Finance Minister Hans Eichel said it would be better to start with something less ambitious even though he backed the British idea.

British officials put on a brave face on the reluctance to stump up so much money so fast, something many say is the only way to meet a UN goal of halving world poverty by 2015.

Brown is hoping he would get support for his plan at the meeting of G-7 finance ministers.

Earlier this week, Brown said in an interview with The Guardian that he would be trying "to persuade America that debt relief and extra finance for development is in its interests not just because it is good economics and social policy but good for its security as well"

He also said that "if the US wants to separate the extremists from those that they are trying to influence, it makes good sense to show how industrial nations can implement a Marshall Plan for developing countries".

Brown said the issue is a key priority for Britain's presidencyof the Group of Eight industrialized nations.

The G7 includes the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada. Enditem

Source: Xinhuanet