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World Bank Finalizes Debt Cancellation for 17 Poor Countries.

The World Bank has given its final stamp of approval for debt cancellation for 17 poor countries. While supporters of debt forgiveness applaud the bank’s action, they’re calling for a quicker and more inclusive process for debt cancellation.

Among them is Debi Kar of the group Jubilee USA Network. In Washington, she spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the World Bank’s decision Tuesday. She says, “The World Bank approved debt cancellation under the terms of the G8 agreement that was decided last summer, July 2005, in Gleneagles, Scotland. And it will cancel the debt to the World Bank for 17 initial countries, who were made eligible immediately by the G8 when they announced their debt cancellation agreement last summer. And these 17 countries have also now seen their debts to the IMF cancelled. And that had been decided this past December.”

This is the final word for those 17 countries, but Kar says more needs to be done for other poor nations. “There are actually between 38 and 42 countries that the World Bank and IMF have determined eligible for full debt cancellation, especially now under the terms of the G8 debt agreement. And so, there are additional countries beyond that first 17 that were granted cancellation as of yesterday by the World Bank. There are 21 to 25 more countries that are in line for debt cancellation and what they have to do is go through these mandated economic reforms, which we sometimes refer to as structural adjustment. And then they too would be eligible for this full debt cancellation that the first 17 countries are now seeing,” she says.

However, the Jubilee spokesperson says the current debt cancellation process takes years and costs poor nations millions of dollars.