Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has sharply criticized inequalities in the international credit system on which the global economy is based, claiming it is loaded against the debtor nations.

Raiser, who is making his first visit to Bangladesh, made his criticisms at a public meeting in Dhaka on March 11 on "Jubilee and Third World Debt." Several speakers at the meeting endorsed Raiser's keynote address. Delegates called for "moral and ethical values" to be imposed on the international credit system.

"The approach to managing debt crisis has been so far dictated almost exclusively by the creditor nations. The system itself is flawed and needs correction," said Raiser in his address to more than 200 academics, social activists, lawyers and business people who attended the seminar.

The creditor nations and the international financial institutions were "interested in maintaining the stability of the system and flow of debt-service payments," he said.

The debt "relief" initiated by donor governments and international financial institutions for the debtor nations in the early 1990s had comprised "schemes to stretch the period for repayment" based on structural-adjustment programs, said the WCC general secretary.

He pointed out in his 50-minute lecture that these measures called for reduction in public spending and stimulating export-oriented production, and thereby "reduced the ability of governments to respond to the immediate needs of the population." As a result, governments in heavily indebted developing nations were forced by international creditors to curtail spending on health, education, clean water and infrastructure development.

"These measures have aggravated and severely undermined ...

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