Speaker confers with int’l partners over debt cancellation


The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, on Monday, held deliberations with 21 international partners, including Ambassadors and development partners as part of the Debt Cancellation Campaign Initiative (DCCI).

The DCCI is an initiative by the Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliament (COSAP), to advocate for Africa’s debt to be absolved due to the huge impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic on Africa’s economy.

Prof. Oquaye, speaking on behalf of COSAP, urged the partners to consider cancelling debts of developing countries in Africa, since this was a perennial matter.

According to him, there was an urgent need for the exoneration of debt as African countries were facing enormous challenges.

The Speaker mentioned an increase in health expenses and other allied expenses, shortfalls in petroleum, slowdown of foreign direct investments, reduction in trade volumes, decline in international price of crude oil, exchange rate volatility and debt service difficulties.

Prof. Oquaye said that in the light of global advocacy efforts, the establishment of a more cohesive pan-African parliamentary voice to support the global and regional campaigns for Africa’s debt cancellation had become imperative.

He said it was, therefore,necessary that the African Speakers’ debt cancellation Initiative was birthed as a means to establish the cohesive pan-African parliamentary voice of the continent, to support the global campaigns advocating for Africa’s debt cancellation.

The Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, and Chairman of Heads of Mission of Development Partners, Mr Tsutomu Himeno, speaking on behalf of his colleagues, said developed nations were opened to discussing debt cancellation for Africa.

The partners said that the lending architecture of the world had changed drastically and nations were no longer the major world lenders, and there was the need to address issues of debt forgiveness, cancellation or suspension.

The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Ian Walker, expressed UK’s preparedness to work towards easing Africa’s economic difficulties.

The American Ambassador, Mrs Stephanie Sullivan made reference to the interventions of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) programme, and how the move aimed to cure the ills of debt burden in African countries.

She urged African countries to refer to the lessons learnt from that intervention to avoid future occurrences.

Prof. Oquaye indicated that the support from the Programme of Action to Mitigate Social Costs Adjustments (PAMSCAD) was not enough to sustain African countries and to elevate them from dependents, to real partners in the development relations.

He urged development partners to embrace legislative diplomacy as a tool in engaging the continent on debt forgiveness. 

In the wake of the pandemic, the World Bank has forecasted that Sub-Saharan Africa will collectively fall into recession for the first time in 25 years.

 The Jubilee Debt Campaign report also indicated that 20 African countries now face increased difficulties with 50% of African countries spending more on debt repayments than they do on healthcare and education, which are key for human capital development.

Prior to the pandemic, the debt levels of numerous African countries were reaching unsustainable levels; according to information from the IMF, debt-to-GDP ratios in African countries have increased from an average of 43 per cent to 62 per cent from 2013 to 2018; Twenty-two (22) African countries have debt-to-GDP ratios of over 60 per cent, the threshold set by the African Monetary Cooperation Programme for prudent debt levels.

BY TIMES REPORTER


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