WASHINGTON, USA — The United States House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill calling for the cancellation of Haiti’s debt in the wake of the catastrophic January 12 earthquake.
The measure orders US representatives to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lending agencies to take action to cancel the Caricom country’s debt obligations.
It is expected to be signed into law shortly by President Barack Obama.
The bill, known as the Haiti Recovery Act, also urges that prospective aid to the French-speaking nation be in the form of grants, rather than loans.
In addition, it calls on the US government to support the formation of an international trust fund to aid in infrastructural development in Haiti.
“There are many of us who look at this earthquake as opportunity,” said Maxine Waters, a Democratic congresswoman, who sponsored the bill.
“We believe that there is now a real commitment by the world community to come to the aid of Haiti,” she added.
Earlier, the US Senate had also unanimously passed a resolution supporting calls for Haiti debt relief.
“The people of Haiti face a long and difficult road ahead,” said Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, lead author of the Haiti Recovery Act and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
“But the United States Senate made it clear that they will not have to walk that road alone,” he added.
In February, the world’s richest countries, otherwise known as the Group of Seven, said they will cancel Haiti’s debt. Those countries comprise Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.
Haiti owes an estimated US$1.88 billion dollars to international creditors. The Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank said about US$14 billion will be needed to rebuild Haiti in the wake of the earthquake.
The US Congress is considering legislation that would provide about US$2.8 billion in new aid to Haiti.
The international community, at a recent United Nations-hosted donors’ conference, recently pledged almost US$10 billion to aid in Haiti’s reconstruction efforts.
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