Congressman Al Green Supports Final Passage of Legislation to Provide Debt Relief for Haiti

Mar 11, 2010 Issues: Social Security

(Washington, DC)--Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4573, Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act of 2010, which Congressman Al Green (TX-09) cosponsored, by a voice vote.
The purpose of this bill, which was originally introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35), is to cancel Haiti’s debts with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral development institutions. If enacted into law, this legislation would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the United States Executive Directors at these institutions to use the vote and influence of the United States to cancel Haiti's debts.        

“Haiti already had a very difficult financial situation before the January 12th earthquake because of its debt and, furthermore, the country had just come out of a series of hurricanes and tropical storms, which had decimated its resources.  This relief comes at a critical stage that will have profound ramifications on Haiti’s future,” Congressman Al Green said.       

Congressman Al Green added that the 7.0 magnitude earthquake “occurred at the worst possible moment. This is why the members of Congress who co-sponsored this bill agree that Haiti needs to be relieved of the burden of its international debt. I believe that measure would facilitate Haiti’s recovery process more quickly and more effectively.”      

Despite previous debt relief initiatives, Haiti still owes $709 million in debts to multilateral financial institutions, including $447 million to the Inter-American Development Bank, $165 million to the International Monetary Fund, $39 million to the World Bank, and $58 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, according to theDepartment of the Treasury.
“As the language of the bill indicates, the Haitian Government cannot focus on the reconstruction of the country if it still has to make payments on these debts,” Congressman Al Green said. “The priority must be the recovery and rebuilding process in Haiti and this legislation paves the way for these efforts.” 
Yesterday, President Barack Obama met with Haitian President René Préval at the White House and pledged that the United States will be Haiti’s partner in the recovery and reconstruction effort. In reference to the upcoming international donors conference that will take place at the United Nations later this month, President Obama indicated it will be an ideal opportunity for the international community to pledge the resources that will be necessary for a coordinated and sustained effort towards Haiti’s recovery.