Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Subcommittee Approves Measure to Cancel Haiti’s Debt

Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 4, 2010
Subcommittee Approves Measure to Cancel Haiti’s Debt
Washington, DC – Today, the International Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee approved H.R. 4573, the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act, introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). The bill would require the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. Executive Directors at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and other multilateral development institutions to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to do the following:

  1. cancel immediately and completely all debts owed by Haiti to these institutions;
  2. suspend Haiti’s debt service payments to the institutions until such time as the debts are canceled completely; and
  3. provide additional assistance to Haiti in the form of grants so that Haiti does not accumulate additional debts.

The United States has called on the IMF to cancel Haiti’s debt to the IMF using the institution’s own internal resources, and H.R. 4573 directs the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the IMF’s US executive director to advocate the use of some of the realized windfall profits from the sale of IMF gold, which was authorized by Congress last year, to provide debt stock relief, debt service relief and grants for Haiti.  The measure also calls upon the Administration to use all appropriate diplomatic influence to secure complete cancellation of any remaining bilateral, multilateral and private creditor debt owed by Haiti.

“The country of Haiti is engaged in a massive recovery process and cannot bear the financial burden of its existing debt obligations. Today, I held a Subcommittee hearing to discuss the process of bilateral and multilateral debt relief for Haiti to bring about long term economic recovery. I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan manner to assist the people of Haiti in their time of greatest need,” stated Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade.

“Haiti faces enormous challenges now, and the burden of paying off foreign debt would prevent the nation from taking necessary steps to help its people at this perilous time.  I introduced H.R. 4573 so that Haiti can use its limited resources to make both immediate and long-term investments in essential humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development efforts,” said Congresswoman Waters.

“The moral case for canceling Haiti’s debt is clear,” said Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, “and the Committee stands prepared to continue to work with the Administration to authorize a swift and substantial U.S. commitment to comprehensive multilateral debt cancellation for Haiti.”

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, owes $828 million to multilateral development institutions according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  This includes $447 million to the IDB, $284 million to the IMF, $39 million to the World Bank, and $58 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development.


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