Tanzania: ECA chief says Ebola-hit countries need debt cancellation

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - External debts of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- the three West African countries which endured dramatic suffering as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease -- should be written off, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopes, said Monday.

In a statement at the opening of the 26th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Lopes once again called on international financial institutions to cancel the debts, stressing that the cancellation should not lead to lack of confidence on these countries’ viability and credit worthiness.

"The relationship of the three Ebola-affected countries with the international financial institutions is at a critical juncture as the imperative for debt cancellation is being discussed after our vocal case for it,” said Lopes, referring to the recently launched ECA report on Ebola, which pointed out that the alarmist projections were wrong.

“We could not visualize more than a marginal impact in the region’s performance, given the size of the three most affected countries being less than 1% of Africa’s combined GDP,” he said.

Lopes explained that the three countries face unique complex development challenges which limit their ability to contain the EVD outbreak, while promoting economic growth, improved public service delivery, meeting regular debt service payments and planning for economic recovery.

As such, he said: “External debt cancellation would offer the three countries a breathing space.”

The ECA report on EVD raised the alarm on the risk of a rise in mortality of diseases not related to Ebola and also pointed out the wider impacts of the virus on the livelihoods of those affected.

According to the report, educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment and decreased food security are some of the big issues that Ebola-affected countries must deal with.
-0- PANA AR 26Jan2015

26 january 2015 18:41:46

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