05 October 2007

About Cancelling the Debt

I was reading something about how Zambia’s foreign debt is so ‘immoral’ etc. and how not cancelling it is so ‘immoral’ blah blah blah, then I got to this part:

Zambia’s rise in external debt is mainly on account of the following reasons:

1. Balance of payment problems of the 1970s due to falling copper prices and rising oil prices. “Over $ 840 million was amassed in the period between 1970 to 1980 to offset this.

2. Zambia's solidarity with countries in liberation struggles such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola, Namibia and Mozambique. This engagement in liberation struggles accounts for over 90 percent of Zambia’s debt in 1999 and it is referred to as apartheid debt.

3. The need to find alternative trade routes to answer to the dilemmas of a landlocked country surrounded by nine countries, five of which were embattled in liberation struggles.

4. Zambia’s self-declared moratorium against austere conditionalities and policies of the IMF and instead opting for home grown policies under the theme "Growth from Own Resources" in1987 to 1989. During this time arrears and penalties amounted to over $3 billion while debt stock to GDP ratio rose to over 200 percent and the debt service to exports ratio rose to over 50 percent.


Well, I’m sorry, but your support for wars in neighbouring countries does not give me a moral obligation to cancel your debt.

Supporting a war in a neighbouring country in order to get access to the sea may well be justifiable, but does not automatically mean I have an obligation to fund it for you.

Poor economic choices by you does not give me an obligation to cancel your debt.

This is self-serving twaddle. The appeal to ‘morality’ is weak at best and deeply cynical at worst.


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