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Lecture on Liberia's External Debt Held in Chinese Embassy

A lecture on Liberia's external debt was held in the Chinese Embassy in Liberia last Thursday, January 10, 2008.

The lecture was given by Mr. Robert S. K. Doe, Deputy Director General of the National Debt Management of the Ministry of Finance of Liberia at the request of the Embassy.

In the lecture, Mr. Doe gave the Embassy staff an all-round picture on the issue. According to him, Liberia's debt worsened in the 1980s when the effort of structural adjustment failed. Oil price hikes and the global recession also contributed to Liberia's debt crisis. The civil conflicts started in 1989 made the issue totally hopeless. By now, the debt has accumulated to over US $ 3.7 billion, 800% of the country's GDP and 3000% of its annual exports, which has become the biggest obstacle on the way of reconstruction and development.

Fully aware of the impact of the debt issue, the Sirleaf Administration has taken unremitting efforts to resolve the problem. They have adopted and graduated from the IMF "Staff Monitoring Program" and the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, which enabled Liberia eligible to begin the HIPC process. Meanwhile, Liberia has secured promises of debt cancellation from its major creditors including China, US, UK and France. The World Bank and the African Development Bank have already cancelled their debts while IMF will do the same very soon. It is estimated that the whole debt cancellation process will be completed in 2 or 3 years. Then, Liberia will resume its full right to borrow. He expressed his appreciation to China who is among the first countries to write off Liberia's debts.

Mr. Doe also answered questions and exchanged views with the Embassy staff on the issue.

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