Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

This sounds like a reasonable proposal for settling Iraq's debt.

First, there should be a three-year moratorium on Iraqi debt payments without interest accruing. Second, an international Iraqi debt commission of financial "wise men" should be established to examine all claims and to disallow debt used for state security or military aggression. Only loans for verifiable economic purposes should be collectable.

Third, the commission should chair negotiations to restructure the remaining legitimate debt with a substantial reduction in present value through a partial write-off or extended rescheduling. The commission should be empowered to force unco-operative creditors to accept an agreement consistent with Iraq's reconstruction and development needs.

Fourth, there should be a debt/equity swap program to encourage private investment in Iraq and give companies a role in the rebuilding. Claims could be sold to investors at deep discounts and redeemed into private sector investments or privatizations.

There are precedents for giving Iraq special treatment, including the debt agreements with Germany in 1953 and Indonesia in 1970, debt forgiveness for Poland and Egypt in 1991 and the treatment of Yugoslav debt owed by Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro. Such a plan for Iraq, implemented without delay, would not hinder political and economic recovery and would help a stable Iraq to join the inter-national economy.

< email | 6/24/2003 12:59:00 PM | link

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