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Aid Group Recommends Debt Cancellation for Nepal

Nepalese women search for belongings from their house that was destroyed in the earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Nepal was repaying $220 million a year to international lenders before the quake. (AP Photo/Bernat Amangue)
Aid Group Recommends Debt Cancellation for Nepal
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

A group of international aid, religious and other groups is calling for debt cancellation for Nepal.

The country is struggling with the effects of a powerful earthquake on April 25 that struck the central part of the country near the capital, Kathmandu. More than 7,300 people died in the quake. The United Nations says eight million people, more than one fourth of the country’s population, has been affected by the disaster.

A map showing the areas affected by the earthquake in Nepal.
A map showing the areas affected by the earthquake in Nepal.

Jubilee Network USA is a coalition of religious and aid groups that works to end extreme poverty. The group, a non-governmental organization, or NGO, says Nepal owes a total of $3.8 billion to foreign creditors including the World Bank and the Asian Development bank.

The coalition’s executive director Eric LeCompte says his organization is trying to persuade the agencies to do more to ease the financial burden on Nepal. He says Nepal was repaying $220 million a year to international lenders before the quake. He says money to repay Nepal’s debt should go to repair, rebuild, and help the nation recover.

Mr. LeCompte says international lenders have cancelled millions of dollars in debt owed by the West African nations devastated by the Ebola crisis. He says he believes the debt relief programs should come with requirements for greater openness and accountability. He says that means the money that would have gone to repayment goes to the most vulnerable citizens, rather than to tax breaks for companies or to support the military.

The International Monetary Fund’s Gerry Rice says the agency will send experts to study Nepal’s needs “as soon as the humanitarian situation subsides.” He says in cases of disaster, the IMF usually provides medium and long-term financing to help rebuilding efforts and offers technical support.

Nepal has a population of more than 28 million people. The World Bank says the country’s economic growth was greater than five percent each year. The loss of thousands of lives and widespread damage to roads, buildings and other infrastructure is likely to hurt growth. The average income in the small country is $730 a year. One fourth of Nepal’s population lives in poverty.

And that is the VOA Learning English Economics Report. I’m Mario Ritter.

Mario Ritter adapted this story from VOA for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.


Words in This Story

devastated adj. damaged to a great extent

relief n. forms of aid, such as food, clothing and money, that are given to victims of disasters

accountability n. the ability to explain decisions and actions

vulnerable n. open to the possibility of physical or emotional harm

subside v. to become less strong or intense; to reduce over time