Skip to main content

When Debt Cancellation for Africa Isn't Enough

Interview With Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, Bank Executive

ROME, JULY 6, 2005 (Zenit) - Some Group of Eight industrial nations have proposed canceling the debt of African countries. Others have suggested allocating 0.7% of their gross national product to help that continent's poor.

Will these technical measures be enough to free millions of people from underdevelopment?

We posed this question to Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the president of the Italian division of Santander Central Hispanic Bank and a professor of the Catholic University of Milan.

Q: How do you evaluate the cancellation of the debt of 18 poor African countries and of the American continent by the Group of Eight members?

Gotti Tedeschi: As I have read it, it seems to me irrelevant and even imprudent.

It is irrelevant from the practical point of view, as they would never have paid this debt.

It is irrelevant from a programmatic point of view, as each one of these poor countries needs, individually, investments directed to projects, which can only be carried out and managed by private businessmen, with local partners, if possible. But they must have considerable joint investments by the governments [of the G-8].

However, for these investments to take place, governments must made adequate -- and not just symbolic -- funds available, and private investors must have confidence in the profitable realization of the projects themselves.

Do the governments of the G-8 and Europe have the adequate funds available? Are they willing to increase their deficit by 0.7% of the GNP? After the cancellation of the debt, will private investors have more confidence?

Q: If I said that I have doubts about the answers to these questions, will I be accused of being a pessimist?

Gotti Tedeschi: That is why I thought the cancellation of the debt was somewhat imprudent, although from the point of view of image it has been very correct.

This cancellation decrees the failure of the economic policies of the African countries, it decrees the complexity of the necessary aid, the greater risk, the greater need for capital and projects.

It would have been better to be vague, to increase the deadline for payment to some 1,000 years. But the cancellation of a debt that would never have been paid seems to be a rather painful act of charity.

What should have been done was to put these countries in a condition of being able to pay the debts, even if in 1,000 years, helping them to create the necessary wealth for their own survival, as well as for their own dignity as human beings, who do not want to feel incapable and failures, in need of non-repayable charity.

Q: The G-8 summit will be held in Gleneagles, Scotland, from July 6-8. What are the most important economic problems it will have to address?

Gotti Tedeschi: I wonder if the G-8 countries can address the real challenge, namely: aid to Africa with 0.7% of the GNP? In exchange for what? For policies to block births? How?

What will be the role of the private sector, which necessarily wants to draw profits? I hope the G-8 members will not let themselves be influenced by statements of contempt for those who work in the financial and industrial world.

Instead, the G-8 members should listen to the suggestions of Pope Benedict XVI, who shows himself to be the most concrete "statesman," inviting them to take concrete measures to help Africa, appealing for the just distribution of the goods of the earth. And, in order to distribute them, it is necessary to make them bear fruit, "to plow, plant, water and harvest."


Catholic Online  CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Africa, Debt, Relief, Bishops, Aid, Money

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article


Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Malachi 3:13-20
'You have said harsh things about me, says Yahweh. And yet you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:5-13
He also said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend and goes ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 8 Saint of the Day

St. Pelagia
October 8: Pelagia, more often called Margaret, on account of the ... Read More