By ORAN P. SMITH - Guest Columnist
Published in The State, Columbus, South Carolina.
Jun. 24, 2008
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives took a huge step in the fight against global poverty by passing the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation, a plan to lift the burden of debt from desperately poor countries, especially in Africa.
The idea of “Jubilee” comes from Leviticus 25, where Moses periodically proclaimed a “Jubilee Year” in which debts were forgiven and slaves were freed. Clearly, debt cancellation has roots in faith, but it is a fiscal and national security matter as well as a moral one. We seek cancellation of illegitimate debt, the tab racked up by past corrupt regimes to line their own pockets and inherited by legitimate governments. This is one of the most efficient methods of foreign assistance. In Tanzania, debt relief led to a 50 percent increase in primary school enrollment, and in Burkina Faso and Mozambique freed funds are being used to support millions who are struggling with HIV/AIDS.