Dec 11, 2003
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC - The president has asked the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to forgive their substantial Iraqi debts one day after the Department of Defense excluded those same countries from reconstruction contracts. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Ranking Member on the Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology Subcommittee and author of the Iraqi Freedom from Debt Act (H.R. 2482) reacted to the reports today:

"The Bush Administration's decision to bar rebuilding contracts for countries that opposed the war a day before calling the leaders of the Russia, France and Germany to relieve Iraq debt is like something out of Dumb and Dumber. Since when is Canada a security threat?" Rep. Maloney said. "The Administration should be collectively engaging the entire world in rebuilding Iraq, while simultaneously obtaining debt relief so Iraq can begin to rebuild itself.

"We should set an example by relieving Iraq of the billions of dollars it owes us. As my bill says, we should call upon the IMF and World Bank to lead the way in debt relief by reducing the debt owed them by Iraq."


H.R. 2482, The Iraqi Freedom from Debt Act, would require the U.S. to negotiate with the IMF, World Bank and other appropriate multilateral development institutions for relief of the debts owed by Iraq to these institutions. Second, it includes a sense of Congress that the President should urge France and Russia and all other public and private creditors to relieve the debts owed to them by Iraq.

While estimates of Iraq's debt range from one hundred billion dollars to several hundred billion dollars, the combined debt owed the IMF and World Bank is just over $150 million. These institutions have the resources to relieve this debt, setting an important precedent for the rest of the world.

In recent years, debt relief has proven to be an effective development tool that releases funds within a nation that can be used to address poverty and meet essential human needs. The case for some debt cancellation is even more compelling in Iraq given that much of the debt can be characterized as odious. Odious debt is internationally recognized as debt that is taken on by a country for the personal benefit of corrupt leaders or for the oppression of a people.