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Sierra Leone Business: Christian Aid calls for Debt Cancellation for Sierra Leone

The UK based charity organization Christian Aid has called on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel Sierra Leones debt of over 200 million pounds, inorder “to save the country’s health care system and save lives.” The Charity made this call last Wednesday when it released its latest report “The New Global Debt Crisis” during the Christian Aid Week. In a summary of its report the Charity explained, “In November 2018, the IMF agreed a new $172m loan programme with Sierra Leone, spread over the next three and a half years, until mid-2022. At the same time, the IMF increased its rating of Sierra Leone’s risk of debt default from moderate to high.  “The IMF forecasts that by 2022 Sierra Leone will be spending 19% of government revenue on foreign debt payments; 40% of these payments are to the IMF itself.” It recalled that, “Following global campaigning, including by the JDC, the IMF agreed to cancel $29m of Sierra Leone’s debt payments due in 2015 and 2016, in response to Ebola. However, the IMF also loaned more money – between 2015 and 2017 – to the tune of $254m. Under the IMF loan programme, the government of Sierra Leone is having to cut public spending per person by 15% by 2019 (on 2016 levels).” The Charity notes that ““Sierra Leone suffers from a deficit of health clinics, medical personnel, and vital resources such as ambulances. With alarmingly high maternal mortality rates, it is also the world’s most dangerous place to become a mother.” If inorder to pay back the loans, the Country has to cut back on public spending then it poses a risk to the failing health care system and may lead to more deaths.  Christian Aid notes that this crisis can only be avoided when the government can afford to pay its own health services. The UK based Charity warned “that lending more money … would lead to a future debt crisis” and is therefore calling on the UK government which is the fourth largest shareholder in the IMF to use its influence “for all international assistance to be given as debt relief and grants instead.”  “The debt trap is obviously a global problem, but the UK has played a vastly disproportionate role in facilitating the crisis, and therefore needs to play a leading role in helping to resolve and prevent further debt crisis,” the report says.

Monday May 20, 2019.

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