In international terms, talk of debt usually refers to developing country external debt owed bilaterally to creditors based in rich countries, such as private banks, export credit agencies and governments, or multilaterally to institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the regional development banks.More specifically, it refers to heavily indebted countries who are in arrears on a large percentage of their debt servicing payments and also have high levels of poverty. Governments of the poorest countries repay debts to international creditors at great cost to people who lack food, clean water, housing, health care and education. The debt crisis also takes an enormous toll on the environment, as natural resources are pillaged in return for foreign exchange with which to pay back foreign creditors. Powerful creditors, specifically the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, use the debt crisis to exact policy changes (or conditionality) from developing country governments - policy changes that have largely made the rich richer and the poor poorer.
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