Uganda: Consider Debt Relief for Poor Countries, Museveni Tells Donors

30 September 2020

Kampala — President Museveni has appealed to world creditors --the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the G20, an elite club of 19 rich countries and the European Union--to consider debt relief for poor countries as they deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his speech at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) yesterday, Mr Museveni commended the international community for the support already rendered to poor countries, including Uganda which he said had "weathered the storm" and "has taught us a few lessons" such as adopting digital technologies and import substitution.

"The decision of the IMF, World Bank, and the G20 in April to immediately suspend debt service payments for 76 countries for one year was laudable. However, the agreed suspension of debt is not enough to respond and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, including to navigate its devastating social and economic impacts," the President said.

"We call for more action on comprehensive debt relief package, particularly debt cancellations by multilateral and bilateral creditors to enable us have acquired funding for the Covid-19 response," he added.

The speech was read out for him via a video link by Uganda's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Adonia Ayebare.

Initially, the President had been lined to address the UNGA, the assembly of all the 193 UN member countries but was rescheduled to yesterday by virtue that he delegated.

Owing to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to ravage the world, the World Bank's development committee and the G20 finance ministers earlier in April approved a debt moratorium to the poorest countries to allow them concentrate their resources on fighting the pandemic.

The G20 called on private creditors to participate in the initiative on comparable terms, while the World Bank and IMF have been further pushing individual lending countries to write off or suspended bilateral debt to the poorest countries.

However, there have been mixed reactions on the matter for several reasons, including the several indebted countries having a track record of poor fiduciary management, corruption, and insatiable appetite for expensive loans spent on projects with no immediate returns.

President Museveni further raised alarm bells on terrorism, and climate change, describing it as "one of the greatest challenges of our time" which calls for "effective and bold multilateral actions by us all."

This year's UNGA coincided with celebrations of the UN marking 75 years of keeping world order in relative peace, since World War II.

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