Following on from last weeks article, this question has been asked a number of times in the Media.
On Question Time (BBC1,UK : Thursday 9th June05) a Mail on Sunday columnist suggested that corruption was rife in Africa and raising money would be questionable. Jane Fonda, also appearing as one of the panellists declared that any demonstrable public emotion in the form of mass demonstration could change the minds of politicians.
There are two related themes here with the common link being fixing the cause for hunger and ensuring that there is no apathy in the west. Live8 hopes to raise awareness but it is sad that the mobile phone companies appear to be profiteering from the call charges!
It is important to note that in the west governments in the past have never been questioned over arms sales to African nations. If aid is escaping from the needy into the hands of those with Swiss bank accounts why are commercial banking organisations allowing this to take place right under their noses. It is a bit similar to watching someone choke when very easily you could pat them on the back to relieve them.
Although Tony Blair has attempted to secure a debt relief agreement with GW Bush, there is a danger that Live8 could flop. For example, although the G7 finance ministers are currently meeting (w/e 11th June), in London in an attempt to agree a deal on African debt relief, these talks are just one month before of anti-poverty campaigners – converge at Gleneagles for a G8 summit. It is great that Britain has vowed to make poverty reduction a key theme of the summit but world mobilisation of support is needed. It is now time for people to stand-up and demand change.
Debt campaigners are concerned that only 27 poor countries have qualified for debt relief and would benefit from any such initiative. 62 countries, including large debtors like Nigeria and Indonesia, should be included. Some countries, for example : France, Germany and Japan are even more reluctant to fully write off debts. Instead, they propose that rich countries take on the debt- servicing costs, rather than write off the debts entirely.
Removing Debt is essential. Currently, approximately 80% of the debt is to rich country governments, but African countries also owe money to private sector lenders. If debt payments were removed these debt ridden countries could use invest their money on resources help reduce poverty. Among the most common priorities are basic health-care, education, and improving roads in rural areas – which is where poverty is often at its worst.
That said, countries that have already been through the current crop of debt relief initiatives are still paying about $2.5bn to service their remaining debts.
I have suggested in the past that multi-national commercial organisations also have a lot to answer for. Their ethos is self-centred and not community centric. Viewing many countries Gross Domestic Product (A common equation for GDP is consumption + investment + exports imports). Vs. their recommended UN contribution to charity is embarrassingly small. Unfortunately, no rich politician is shamed into admitting this or doing anything to increase rich countries contribution to helping the poor. Now Live8 has a chance to remind them.
STOP PRESS : A debt relief agreement has been reached with over $50B being cleared. Let us also hope that even some of the developing African countries are not excluded in order for them to collectively reap the benefits of renewal. In addition, continued support through a suggested plan of consistency. There is still much to do to feed and help the world today.