Congressional Support Urged for G8 Debt Pact

U.S. Bishop Makes Plea in a Letter

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 20, 2005 ( Congressional support for the debt cancellation agreement reached at the G8 summit in Scotland will offer hope to some of the world’s poorest countries, says a key U.S. bishop.

“The new global partnership reached at the G8 summit … offer[s] hope that countries can cooperate in eliminating the conditions that lead to suffering and despair and in some cases allow terrorism to fester,” said Bishop John Ricard, chairman of the U.S. episcopal International Policy Committee, in a letter sent to every member of the U.S. House and Senate.

“I urge you to support … the Multilateral Debt Relief Act of 2005,” he urged.

The Multilateral Debt Relief Act was introduced in the Senate on June 28, and in the House on June 30. The bill authorizes the appropriation of the funds necessary to finance the U.S. share of the cost of the agreement reached by the Group of Eight industrial nations.

Bishop Ricard said the legislation was important for two additional reasons.

First, it also authorizes the cancellation of debt owed to the Inter-American Development Bank. Without this expansion of debt relief, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will have a much smaller share of their debt canceled than African nations, Bishop Ricard said.

Second, he said, the legislation puts the Congress on record as urging the U.S. Treasury Department to work toward debt relief for countries eligible for grant financing from the International Development Association, but which are not eligible for debt cancellation under the G8 agreement.

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