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On Haiti, IMF's Strauss-Kahn Dodges on Debt Forgiveness, Past Conditions' Harm

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 31 -- Amid the congratulatory talk about help to Haiti at the UN on March 31, it emerged that the International Monetary Fund has yet to forgive Haiti's now over $270 million in debt to the IMF, while by contrast the Inter American Development Bank has forgiven all of its $479 million in loans to Haiti.

  Inner City Press asked the IMF's Dominique Strauss-Kahn why the IMF's loans had yet to be forgiven, and to address the IMF's previous conditionalities on Haiti which results, experts say, in the destruction of the country's rice industry.

  Strauss-Kahn scoffed at the latter question, saying that this -- a press stakeout in front of the pledging conference in the UN's Trusteeship Council Chamber -- was not the place to discussion conditionality. On the still unforgiven loans, he argued that they are not due until 2012, and bragged that Rene Preval is happy with the IMF's, and presumably his, performance.

  After the stakeout, Strauss-Kahn made a point of hanging around with President Preval in the hallway in front of the Trusteeship Council.

UN's Ban, Zoellick and Strauss-Kahn, IMF debt forgiveness not yet shown

  Soon, the representative of the IADB came out, and confirmed that full forgiveness of $479 million in loans. Inner City Press asked, what explained the IABD's fast forgiveness, and the IMF's continued delay?

   The IADB representative diplomatically mentioned the meeting of finance ministers in Cancun. But there are been a number of IMF Executive Board meetings and/or actions since Haiti's earthquake.

Some question whether Strauss-Kahn's perhaps related fixation on Greece -- where he's said the IMF would "intervene" if asked -- and his personal political trajectory, not only vis a vis Nicolas Sarkozy but also Martine Aubry, have made him and the IMF slow on Haiti. One wouldn't know it from Wednesday's bluster, but facts... are facts. Watch this site.

* * *
For IMF, Canceling Haiti's Debt is Medium Term Goal, Outcome Uncertain, UN's IFAD, Venezuela and Taiwan Are Creditors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- While the IMF's Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn rushed out a statement that the "IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt," on Thursday morning his spokesperson Caroline Atkinson called this a "medium range" goal.

She emphasized that Strauss-Kahn cannot predict how the IMF board will vote, when it meets next week. She mentioned the outstanding bilateral loan to Haiti of Venezuela, but not Taiwan's reported $92 million loan. Taiwan is of particular interest in light of mainland China's dispatch to Haiti of a 125 member "riot squad" fomed police unit, a senior delegation there on the day of the earthquake, and a search and rescue team the day after.

  Among Haiti's creditors is the UN system's International Fund for Agricultural Development. Even as the UN has done into "Haiti only" mode for the past nine days, there's been no talk of canceling the UN's own loans to Haiti.

  Strauss-Kahn's "Marshall Plan" comments have been portrayed by some progressives -- or "anti-poverty" activists, as one reporter at the IMF's January 21 briefing phrased it -- as a victory for online activism. But Strauss-Kahn's grand statement may mean less than first appeared.

  Inner City Press submitted several questions to the IMF during its January 21 briefing, held in a new broadcast center, about Haiti as well as Romania, Iceland and Serbia. While Ms. Aktinson read out and at least purported to respond to Inner City Press' Romania question, this Haiti question was ignored:

The M-D has said "IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt." What exactly is the IMF doing, with the IADB, IFAD, Venezuela and Taiwan? When does the IMF anticipate canceling its $265 million in loans? Do any of the past conditions apply to the first $165 million?

  The IMF has in the past provided same day written responses to questions submitted but not answered at its bi-weekly briefing. That should be done today. Watch this site.

Haitian ministry

Two other unanswered questions are, "Please state the relation between the Icesave referendum and the IMF's consideration of Iceland."

"In Serbia, National Bank of Serbia governor Radovan Jelasic has said that restrictions on raises are in connection with the IMF. True?"

Note that on the IMF's outstanding $165 million loan to Haiti, reportedly the conditions included restrictions on public sector pay raises, and lifting the price of electricity.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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