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PUBLISHED - 04 July, 2011

The unfinished business of third world debt

The unfinished business of third world debt

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Not all debt is bad. It allows people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, such as buy a house or expand a business. But throughout history, excessive debt has contributed to all sorts of economic problems. Third World debt is a prime example.

Many of the poorest countries in the world owe that money to rich countries and international banks. And in many cases it’s more than they receive in aid money every year.Worse still, in a lot of cases, the debts were based on questionable loans that did little to benefit the lives of the majority of people they were supposedly aimed at.

For example, British arms sales to the regime of the brutal Indonesian dictator General Suharto were allegedly used in repression, and the current Indonesian Government is still paying for them to this day.

Enough is enough. It’s time to call time on Third World debt. In fact, we’ve been campaigning on this issue for over a decade and were the first corporate member of the Jubilee 2000 Coalition which has played a part in pushing global leaders to write off over $100 billion in poor country debt so far.

Today, the vast majority of the debt owed by Third World countries to the UK – some £2bn - is owed to a Government department called the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD). This supports British business investing in ‘risky’ deals, often in developing countries. Some of the projects have been linked to corruption, human rights abuses and environmental destruction. Our Unfinished Business Campaign offers a way for people to take action to reform this department, to make it more transparent and a force for good.

By visiting our unfinished business site you can easily contact your MP and ask that they sign Early Day Motion 622 on the Export Credits Guarantee Department. Already, we have almost 180 MPs voicing their support and we reckon that if we can reach around 230, then things will really start to get interesting! The website also explains more about the campaign and other ways in which you can get involved and do your bit.

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