The Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Carlos Lopes, has called on international financial institutions to cancel external debts owed by the three countries severely affected by Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Lopes, who spoke at the merging of the on-going 26th Ordinary Session of AU Executive Council, reiterated that the three countries; Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, had endured dramatic suffering as a result of the EVD.
“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 visualise more than a marginal impact in the region’s performance, given the size of the three most affected countries being less than one per cent of Africa’s combined GDP.’’
He said that the cancellation should not lead to lack of confidence on these countries’ viability and credit worthiness.
“The three countries face recognised 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.
He noted the setback induced by the EVD which exacerbated weak initial conditions, structural vulnerabilities and limited potential to sustain growth under widening fiscal deficits.
According to him, external debt cancellation will offer the three countries a breathing space to face the challenges of containing the disease as well as other challenges, including weak educational systems, rising social stigma, unemployment and decreased food security.