Letter to Minister Flaherty Re: Cancelling Haiti's bi-lateral and multi-lateral debt - June 12, 2008

12 June 2008

Hon. Minister Christine Lagarde Hon. Minister Giulio Tremonti,
Hon. Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Hon. Minister Peer Steinbrück Hon. Minister Jim Flaherty
Hon. Henry Paulson Jr., Secretary of the Treasury
Hon. Minister Fukushiro Nukaga Hon. Minister Alexei Kudrin

Re: Open letter to G8 Finance Ministers calling for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti

The undersigned civil society organizations from the Group of Eight (G8) nations and other European organizations urge all G8 Governments to support immediate multilateral and bilateral debt cancellation for Haiti or a moratorium on all debt service payments until such a time as the debt is cancelled.

With food prices on the rise in Haiti and social unrest in the impoverished nation increasing, Haiti can ill afford to make debt service payments of US$58.2 million in 2008.

This amounts to over US$1 million per week and represents scarce funds which could be better spent addressing the current food crisis and helping Haiti recover from years of economic, political and environmental turmoil.

In 2009, Haiti is projected to pay-out US$50.9 million in debt service payments to its creditors. If it does not reach completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, this sum will rise to US$59.6 million. Given current political and social turmoil in the country it is highly likely that completion point under the international debt relief scheme will be delayed. This means that debt cancellation will happen too late for a country that currently cannot afford to feed its own people.

Moreover, much of Haiti’s debt was incurred during the dictatorships of the Duvaliers and Haitian citizens benefited little, if at all, from these loans.

In 2006 Haiti owed a total of US$ 1.3 billion to external creditors. US$ 1 billion of this is owed to multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. In addition Haiti owes bilateral creditors important sums. In 2006, Haiti owed Italy approximately US$ 70mn; France US$ 65 million; the United States US$ 15 million and Canada US$ 2.6 million. These sums represent relatively little to some of the world’s wealthiest nations but could mean critical investments in the development of Haiti’s agricultural, health and education systems could take place.

The G8 are extremely influential within the Board’s of the major multilateral financial institutions and should use this influence to call for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti.

In the context of current discussions over the global food crisis, we request your urgent support for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti or a moratorium on all debt service payments until such a time as the debt is cancelled at the forthcoming G8 Finance Ministers meeting on 13-14 June.

Yours Sincerely,

  1. Gail Hurley, Policy Officer, European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD)
  2. Alessandra Spalletta, Coordination Europe-Haiti (CoE-H)
  3. Fraser Reilly-King, Halifax Initiative, Canada
  4. Neil Watkins, Coordinator, Jubilee USA Network, USA
  5. Sarah Williams, Policy Officer, Jubilee Debt Campaign, UK
  6. Annie Girard, Réseau Foi & Justice Afrique-Europe, France
  7. Charles Arthur, Director, Haiti Support Group, UK
  8. Anne McConnell, Haiti Advocacy Platform Ireland-UK (HAPI-UK)
  9. Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International
  10. Daleep Mukarji, Director Christian Aid
  11. Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam International
  12. Chris Bain, Director, Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
  13. Raphael Yves-Pierre, Director Action Aid Haiti
  14. Paul Chitnis, Chief Executive, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)
  15. Daleep Mukarji, Director, Christian Aid, UK
  16. Joseph Maxime RONY, Secrétaire Exécutif du Programme pour une Alternative de Justice, PAJ, Haiti
  17. Xavier Jadoul, chargé de projets Haiti a Entraide et Fraternité, Belgique
  18. Gudule Boland, desk officer for Haiti at Solidaridad, Nederland
  19. Colette Lespinasse, directrice du Groupe d’Appui aux Réfugiés et Rapatriés (GARR), Haiti
  20. Suzanne Loiselle, directrice de L'Entraide missionnaire, Montréal Québec
  21. Janine Bardonnet, Solidarité Laique, France
  22. Serge Petit, Solidarité Laique, France
  23. Mathilde Bossard, chargée de projets auprès de