Friday, January 15, 2010

France Asks Haiti's Creditors: Cancel Debt Quickly

By Emma Vandore

PARIS-France moved to help disaster-hit Haiti on Friday by urging creditors to speed efforts to cancel the impoverished Caribbean nation's debt in order to free funds that otherwise would be used on repayments.

Though the Paris Club of creditor nations agreed in July to clear Haiti's remaining $215 million debt to club members, the process can still take years to finalize.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said she asked members of the informal club to speed up the process. The next meeting is Wednesday.

Club members agreed to cancel $62.7 million under the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's initiative for heavily indebted poor countries and another $152 million through bilateral deals.

France has asked that nations clarify how much had been canceled already and how much is still outstanding.

For its part, France wants to quickly cancel Haiti's remaining euro54 million debt to Paris, after already having canceled euro4 million before the quake, Lagarde said.

Lagarde said Friday she is also asking nonmembers Venezuela and Taiwan, who are owed significant amounts by Haiti, to help in debt reduction.

This follows the cancellation of $1.2 billion in debt last month by the World Bank, IMF and Inter-American Development Bank.

Source: BusinessWeek

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