World Bank sneers at debt relief

Issue 

World Bank sneers at debt relief

WORLD BANK president James Wolfensohn told a media conference in Manila on February 26 that using Christianity's Jubilee year as a platform to campaign for debt relief for the Third World is "whimsical" and could "screw up the market".

Some church leaders and church-based lobby groups have called for debt write-off by lending institutions, including the World Bank, to mark the 2000th birthday of Christ. Wolfensohn responded that debt cancellation is "really quite an interesting issue" because "there are $2 trillion dollars in outstanding debt to developing countries" and writing this off would put pressure on lending institutions' capitals and "screw up the market" for debt instruments.

Wolfensohn added that, while there is a "lot of passion" about debt cancellation, governments that own the World Bank and other lending agencies are not prepared to raise the limit of the money they contribute as funds: "The reality is the limit of debt forgiveness is the limit of the governments that own us".