June 12, 2005

Compassion

Its a rare thing that happened today on a global scale: compassion. Firstly some background:

Group of Eight consists of the world's leading industrialised nations:
  1. Canada
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. Italy
  5. Japan
  6. Russia
  7. United Kingdom
  8. United States
  9. European Union [ that's right EU is the 9th member, the name update is coming ]
G-8 today announced it will write off $40 billion USD of debt from 19 [ note that almost all sources report 18 when its in fact 19 ] developing countries, many of which are in Africa. Its a moved designed to lift Africa out of poverty by allowing a combined 1.5 billion USD each year normally used to pay interests to be reinvested with in the respective nations. What is even more surprising is the lack of any strings - the White House has stated that this act "would not jeopardize future aid funding". If that wasn't enough. Bush Administration has "agreed that rich nations would provide extra money to the multilateral bodies to compensate for the assets written off, and ensure future aid packages would not be affected."

By the way, the 19 countries are:
  1. Benin
  2. Burkina Faso
  3. Ethiopia
  4. Ghana
  5. Guyana
  6. Madagascar
  7. Mali
  8. Mauritania
  9. Mozambique
  10. Niger
  11. Rwanda
  12. Senegal
  13. Tanzania
  14. Uganda
  15. Zambia
  16. Bolivia
  17. Guyana
  18. Honduras
  19. Nicaragua.
These countries will benefit immensely from this act of compassion. For example, one in five Malawians is HIV-positive and the country spends more on debt interest payments than health.

In today's profit driven world where corporations aim only to increase their profit margin, this is a welcomed move from the leading Governments in the world. Here compassion shone through greed, through selfishness and illuminated a better path for nations in need.

It doesn't stop here though. Plans are on the drawing board for further debt write-offs - 20 other country are eligible provided they meet strict requirements which demonstrates the integrity and ability of their Government. Potentially $55 billion USD of debt will be written off.

If only business can be convinced to do the same for people in need - widows, single parents, students. People who are struggling to pay back debts where interest alone cripples their ability to lead a better life.

I must admit I am pleasantly surprised by this move. It goes to show that compassion still exists in our world's leaders and all is not lost.

To the world's leaders - well done, and my thanks.

Cheers,
Steve