United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says donor countries including Britain, Saudi Arabia and China had pledged to waive $30 billion in debts owed by the government of war-torn Iraq.
Ban announced the figure at the end of a one-day international conference, which endorsed an International Compact offering financial and other support to Iraqi institutions in return for political and economic reform. „A numbers of countries have made concrete commitments under the Compact today. In particular there was broad support for the terms of the Paris Club on Iraq's outstanding debt. Specific financial commitments made by particular countries are estimated at over $30 billion,” he told a news conference. He said the figure of $30 billion included commitments by Bulgaria, China, Saudi Arabia, Greece and new commitments by Britain, Australia, Spain, Denmark and South Korea. But it was not clear how much of the total these countries committed in connection with Thursday's conference in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Saudi Arabia, for example, said two weeks ago that it had agreed to waive 80% of the money it is owed by Iraq, in line with the percentage recommended by the Paris Club. That alone would have contributed about $12 billion to the $US30 billion figure cited by Ban.
Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabor said on Thursday Iraq had accepted an Egyptian offer to forgive $800 million in debt, and three East European countries - Slovenia, Poland and Bulgaria - have offered an 80% waiver of the debt owed to them. He did not give figures for the European countries. When Saudi Arabia announced its waiver last month, Jabor estimated that his country's debt stood at $140 billion. But since the Iraqi government was making very few debt repayments, either of interest or capital, the waivers have more political than economic importance, analysts say. (ninemsn.com.au)