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Netherlands allocates €150 million in debt relief to Sudan in 2014 budget

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December 4, 2013 (WASHINGTON) - The Dutch government has included a proposal in its 2014 budget to cancel €150 million of Sudan’s debt, contingent upon the country fulfilling certain conditions, an official in the Hague told the parliament last week.

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An overview of the Dutch parliament in session in The Hague on 24 April 2012 (Reuters)

The Dutch minister for foreign trade and development cooperation Lilianne Ploumen told lawmakers that Sudan must first satisfy the requirements set forth by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

Ploumen also mentioned progress on Sudan’s strategy for poverty reduction as a prerequisite for debt relief.

“Topics such as peace, security, national unity, rule of law and corruption are also of great importance in a country like Sudan”, she said.

The remarks by the minister were questioned by some lawmakers who argued that Sudan is undeserving of such a move given its poor human rights record.

The IMF has projected Sudan’s debt to hit $45 billion in 2013, amounting to 85.8% of its GDP.

South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011, has yet to agree on what portion of the debt it is willing to take.

The two countries are currently working with the African Union (AU) mediation team on pressing creditors to agree to debt relief.

Last April, an IMF official said that it will be near impossible for Sudan to secure debt relief even if it satisfied technical and economic requirements.

“I’m not saying this is impossible, but it is difficult because it is linked to political issues, which requires a public relations effort with member countries”, IMF deputy director of the Middle East and Central Asia department, Edward Gemayel, said during a visit to Khartoum.

He pointed out that any debt relief deal with Sudan would require the unanimous consent of all 55 of Paris Club of creditor nations, which he suggested would be improbable.

Akshaya Kumar, a Sudan and South Sudan analyst at the Washington-based Enough Project, stressed in an emailed statement to Sudan Tribune that the Dutch government “must make it clear that it would only authorise debt relief to Sudan after irreversible political benchmarks are achieved”.

“Merely meeting the technical criteria laid out by the International Monetary Fund is not enough; aerial bombardment of civilian targets must stop, humanitarian access must be guaranteed to all parts of the country, and transformational political and legal reforms need to begin”, she said.

Kumar testified before a special procedures hearing of the Dutch parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Wednesday, where she showed the committee a number Enough Project videos with eyewitness accounts of violence in Darfur and Blue Nile state.

(ST)

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