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Sunday, October 23, 2016
UK Christmas bill could halve global poverty
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¬†The world's richest countries are betraying promises made to help the poor in Africa according to a new CAFOD report: 'Justice Not Charity'. Rich countries committed in 2000 to the Millennium Development Goals aimed at reducing poverty by 2015, but they have produced neither the necessary financing nor policies to achieve them. Tony Blair has promised to make Africa a priority of the UK presidency Group of Eight (G8) most industrialised nations in 2005. CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: "The gap between the rich and poor is widening. At least 300 million Africans live on less than 50 pence a day. The cost of tackling poverty would not hurt us. The £30 billion spent on Christmas shopping in the UK could halve global poverty. Millions of lives depend on the world's richest countries coming up with the money and changing the way they trade. 2005 offers our generation the last best chance to end poverty. The G8, led by Britain next year, must seize the prize." CAFOD estimates that Africa needs at least $40 billion per year in aid from the world's richest countries if it is to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Currently the continent only receives $18 billion per year from donor countries - about as much as they spend on pet food. Adding insult to injury, the aid conditions often keep Africans from investing in their economic productivity. As a result, Africa is way off track in meeting the MDGs by the 2015 target. For example, Africa will according to projections only halve the numbers of people living in absolute poverty by 2147. Although world leaders promised $100 billion in debt relief in 1999 at the G8 Summit in Cologne, only $31 billion has been delivered to date. And the scheme for debt relief for poor countries is so flawed that many countries are worse off than before. Over a half of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (or HIPCs) spend 15% of their government revenue on debt servicing. It means in Zambia, the government can't afford to pay schoolteachers enough to survive. CAFOD argues that in 2005 the G8 must come up with a new framework for debt relief based on a poor country's ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Under this regime, almost all HIPCs and some other poor countries like Nigeria would require total debt cancellation and additional aid. Increases in resources are not enough. Without changes to international trade rules, Africa will be caught in a commodity trap. African markets in places like Zambia and Mozambique are more liberalised than many European markets. Meanwhile, the US and EU paid their farmers billions to overproduce goods that were dumped on the unprotected Third World markets. The result is the pauperisation of African farmers. CAFOD wants a reform of northern agricultural subsidies and for African countries to be able to protect their markets. Agriculture is Africa's best chance but its farmers are being shackled by unfair trade rules.
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