AFP: House panel votes Haiti debt relief
A House panel approved a resolution aimed at easing Haiti's debt burden to help with reconstruction efforts in the wake of the devastating January 12 earthquake.
The House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology approved a measure directing US representatives to the IMF, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and other international organizations to work for Haitian debt relief.
"Haiti faces enormous challenges now, and the burden of paying off foreign debt would prevent the nation from taking necessary steps to help its people at this perilous time," said Democratic Representative Maxine Waters.
Waters's resolution also calls for any new aid to Haiti come in the form of grants rather than loans.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a similar resolution last week. Both measures need to make their way through the respective chambers to become law.
The Group of Seven richest countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States -- announced in early February that they would cancel Haiti's bilateral debt.
But that amounts to only a small portion of Haiti's overall debt, which ran about 1.88 billion dollars as of late September 2008, according to the Paris Club group of creditor nations.
The IADB estimates that Haiti's reconstruction will cost some 14 billion dollars.