Congresswoman Waters and 21 Other Members of Congress Urge IMF to Cancel Liberia's Debts
Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D?CA) sent a letter to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), urging him to use his influence to ensure that Liberia receives debt relief as soon as possible. The letter was signed by 22 members of the House of Representatives, including Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the Financial Services Committee; Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee; and Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. The text of the letter follows:
We welcome the announcement that the IMF has secured approximately $840 million in pledges from member countries in order to clear Liberia's arrears and finance debt relief for Liberia. We encourage you to use your influence to ensure that Liberia is able to benefit from debt relief as soon as possible.
As you know, Liberia is one of the world's most impoverished countries, and it is in a difficult transition to a new democracy, following fourteen years of civil war. Per capita income is projected to be $136 per year. The unemployment rate hovers around 85%, and more than three quarters of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Life expectancy is less than 45 years, and the infant mortality rate is 157 infants per 1,000 live births.
Liberia owes approximately $4.5 billion in external debts. Debt relief will free up resources to rebuild Liberia's infrastructure and meet the basic needs of its population. Debt relief will also provide a tangible sign of progress to the Liberian people, bolstering the democratically-elected government. Furthermore, the sooner Liberia receives debt relief, the sooner Liberia's government can devote its full attention to other critical issues such as poverty reduction, financial management, and good governance.
We appreciate your efforts to clear Liberia's arrears, and we look forward to working with you to expedite debt relief for the people of Liberia.