The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is stressing the need for the cancellation of the debts of countries affected by Ebola, a press release issued in Addis Ababa says.
The Executive Secretary of the ECA and UN Under-Secretary, Dr. Carlos Lopes who was speaking at the opening of the 26th Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 26, 2015, reiterated the call on international financial institutions to cancel the debts owed by Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“These countries have endured dramatic suffering as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD),” he said, according to the release.
In reference to the recently launched ECA report on Ebola, which pointed out that the alarmist projections were wrong, he said, “The relationship of the three Ebola-affected countries with the International Financial Institutions is at a critical juncture as the imperative for debt cancellation is being discussed after our vocal case for it.”
“We could not visualize more than a marginal impact in the region’s performance, given the size of the three most affected countries being less than 1% of Africa’s combined GDP,” he said.
Dr. Lopes argued that the cancellation should not lead to lack of confidence on these countries’ viability and credit worthiness.
“The three countries face recognized unique complex development challenges which limit their ability to contain the EVD outbreak itself, while promoting economic growth, improved public service delivery, meet regular debt service payments and plan for economic recovery,” he said.
According to him, the setback induced by the EVD exacerbates weak initial conditions, structural vulnerabilities and limited potential to sustain growth under widening fiscal deficits.
As such, “external debt cancellation would offer the three countries a breathing space,” he said.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi