At first glance this appears to be a good thing:
The United States and Britain have reached an agreement on how the billions of dollars that the world’s poorest nations owe to international lenders can be erased, removing the last impediment to an accord long sought by the richest nations, a senior official involved in the negotiations said Thursday.
Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, will present their proposal to a meeting of the finance ministers of seven of the Group of 8 industrial nations on Friday in London, the official said.
The plan would free 18 countries, most of which are in Africa, from any obligation to repay the estimated $16.7 billion they owe the international lenders, said the official, who requested anonymity because a formal announcement of the agreement had not been made. The debts will be written off by the lenders in an effort to allow the debtor countries to start fresh, get their books in order and eventually be able to borrow again for economic development, health, education and social programs, rather than simply to repay existing loans.
I would rather just see aid in the form of, well aid, than more future loans. At some point something is going to have to be done to break the cycle of loans followed by default followed by debt relief followed by more loans. It just doesn’t make sense.