Congress Passes Somalia Debt Relief

WASHINGTON – As part of the Federal government’s year-end spending package or “minibus,” Congress passed the first phase of debt relief for Somalia. On Tuesday the House of Representatives passed the DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act of 2019 (HR 1158) which included $35 million to begin paying the principle of $1.1 billion in US held debt. On Wednesday the Senate passed the companion legislation (S 135) which sends the bill to the President to be signed into law.

“Debt relief for Somalia cannot come soon enough,” stated Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. “Without relieving Somalia’s debt, Somalia is unable to finance infrastructure and recover from war, natural disasters or famines.” The Human Development Index ranks Somalia among the 5 least developed countries on earth. Possibly the poorest country on the African continent, Somalia has a 73% extreme poverty rate.

“Canceling Somalia’s debt could mean women’s empowerment, kids going back to school and moving forward measures to end extreme poverty,” noted LeCompte who serves on United Nations debt expert groups. “If President Trump signs the spending package, the US Treasury and State Departments are authorized to move forward the first phase of debt relief for the African country.”

Somalia owes about $4.6 billion in debt. The United States is the largest creditor holding $1.1 billion in Somalia debt. The majority of the remainder of the debt is held by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, France and Italy.

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