Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Action Alert:: Stop the Debt Vultures

Call on Donegal International:
Stop Taking Millions from Zambia’s Debt Relief

The vultures are circling! Right now, a private company is trying to scavenge a huge profit from Zambia, one of the world's poorest countries which has just benefited from debt relief. Please take action to prevent this.

** On Tuesday, February 20, call Debt Advisory International (DAI)’s Washington, DC office at 202-463-2188 and tell Michael Sheehan, the owner of DAI and Donegal International, not to take up to $20 million from Zambia! **

In 1999, a Donegal International bought a debt owed by Zambia, originally worth $15 million and then valued at about $30 million, for a knock-down price of $3.3 million. Now it has sued Zambia for the full amount, plus interest and costs – a staggering total of over $55 million! On 15th February 2007, a London court rejected the size of Donegal's claim, but said that under law it is still entitled to something from Zambia.

The exact total is to be determined, but may be as much as $20 million. This would be half of the amount Zambia is due to save from debt relief this year: but it desperately requires all its money to invest in essential social services and infrastructure development. Donegal must not take this money, and you can help.

This story was first aired publicly last week by Greg Palast on BBC’s Newsnight and on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. You can watch the news stories which gives more details at http://jubileeusa.typepad.com/. Then, take action!

Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts. (Nehemiah 10:31)

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Friday, February 16, 2007

India to Host Developing Nations' Conference on WTO?

India has offered to partner United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) for hosting a conference of developing countries to assess the impact of tariff reductions in manufactured goods under WTO agreements on the economies of developing countries.

Launching UNIDO Centre for South-South Industrial Cooperation, Commerce and Industry, Minister Kamal Nath, offered to hold a meeting of group of 90 developing to discuss the impact of tariff reduction on developing countries and steps that need to be taken in future.

The offer was immediately accepted UNIDO's Director General, Kandeh Yumkella, who was also present.

Earlier, Nath launched a frontal attack against the multi-lateral agencies like World Bank and IMF and their "bizarre ideas" that come up from time to time, but have "repeatedly failed".

He said developing countries have learnt their lessons after implementing their advice. At the Hong Kong ministerial conference of WTO the developing countries asked India, which is voicing their concerns at the multi-lateral body, that it should anything but save them from the clutches of World Bank and IMF, Nath said.

He also attacked the developed countries who, he said, were turning protectionist after preaching free trade.

"The developed countries wanted developing countries to take greater cuts on tariffs on industrial goods. We have told them at Davos that developing countries would cut their tariffs by 10 per cent less than what developed countries were willing to do. We are yet to hear from them," he said.

Earlier, speaking at the conference Yumkella laid down the challenges faced by resource-rich African countries in providing economic opportunities for their youth by manufacturing value-added products.

The centre is the first of its kind in the world and UNIDO has planned one centres each in Brazil, South Africa and China.

The centres would enhance cooperation between the developing countries to boost industrial sector by exchange of expertise and experience. It will also network institutions and enterprises and strengthen national and local innovation systems.

It would also work for human resource development, technology transfer, policy formulation and standards.

The India centre, which came up in just 10 months, will focus on areas of renewable energy, low-cost housing, food-processing, pharma and biotech, technical training and skill enhancement, and information technology applications in investment, trade and industry.

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