Scottish government makes debt relief top priority

The Scottish government have signalled that they would take action to deal with unjust debts inherited from the UK, if there is a yes vote in 2014’s independence referendum. The Scottish government has said granting “Debt relief” will be one of its top four priorities for international development policy following independence, including questioning unjust debts, stopping the creation of new unjust debts and establishing Scotland as a centre for debt arbitration.

British made Alvis Stormer vehicle, supplied to then Indonesian dictator General Suharto in the mid-1990s.
British made Alvis Stormer vehicle, supplied to then Indonesian dictator General Suharto in the mid-1990s.

The announcement once again exposes Vince Cable’s failure to implement Liberal Democrat policy to “conduct our own audit of all existing UK government and commercial debts, ruling invalid any past lending that was recklessly given to dictators known not to be committed to spend the loans on development.”

Over £2 billion is owed by developing countries to the UK government. Almost all of it is owed to Vince Cable’s UK Export Finance, which guarantees loans to other countries to buy British exports. If Scotland votes yes to independence, the Scottish government will inherit its share of the debt to be owed to it, around £170 million.

The debts owed to the UK include loans to the now deposed Indonesian dictator, General Suharto, to buy fighter jets and tanks which were used against the Indonesia people. They also include loans to Saddam Hussain for military equipment, including a chemical weapons factory, deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak for military equipment, and former Kenyan dictator Daniel Arap Moi for military equipment and a corrupt mega-dam project. The people of these countries are still repaying these debts.

Alys Mumford from Jubilee Scotland said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition of unjust debt systems, and the commitment to prioritise debt relief in their international development programme. We will continue to work with both the Scottish and UK Governments to achieve an end to unjust global debt systems which keep people in poverty.”

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, said:

“This announcement puts further pressure on Vince Cable to implement his own policy and cancel unjust debt. People in countries such as Indonesia, Iraq and Kenya should not be forced to repay loans which were used to oppress them.”

The UK government continues to back loans for military equipment and other unjust deals. In 2012/13, Vince Cable’s UK Export Finance guaranteed loans to the dictatorship in Oman to buy Typhoon fighter aircraft and the Indonesian military to buy spying equipment. The Scottish government has now pledged to stop creating such unjust debts if there is a yes vote in the referendum.


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