By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, March 31 — Amid the congratulatory talk about help to Haiti at the UN on March 31, it emerged that the International Monetary Fund has yet to forgive Haiti’s now over $270 million in debt to the IMF, while by contrast the Inter American Development Bank has forgiven all of its $479 million in loans to Haiti.
Inner City Press asked the IMF’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn why the IMF’s loans had yet to be forgiven, and to address the IMF’s previous conditionalities on Haiti which results, experts say, in the destruction of the country’s rice industry.
Strauss-Kahn scoffed at the latter question, saying that this — a press stakeout in front of the pledging conference in the UN’s Trusteeship Council Chamber — was not the place to discussion conditionality. On the still unforgiven loans, he argued that they are not due until 2012, and bragged that Rene Preval is happy with the IMF’s, and presumably his, performance.
After the stakeout, Strauss-Kahn made a point of hanging around with President Preval in the hallway in front of the Trusteeship Council.
Soon, the representative of the IADB came out, and confirmed that full forgiveness of $479 million in loans. Inner City Press asked, what explained the IABD’s fast forgiveness, and the IMF’s continued delay?
The IADB representative diplomatically mentioned the meeting of finance ministers in Cancun. But there are been a number of IMF Executive Board meetings and/or actions since Haiti’s earthquake.
Some question whether Strauss-Kahn’s perhaps related fixation on Greece — where he’s said the IMF would “intervene” if asked — and his personal political trajectory, not only vis a vis Nicolas Sarkozy but also Martine Aubry, have made him and the IMF slow on Haiti. One wouldn’t know it from Wednesday’s bluster, but facts… are facts. Watch this site.