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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 14:06 GMT
Brown defends progress on poverty
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown called for new momentum on trade talks
Gordon Brown has dismissed suggestions that little progress has been made in tackling global poverty since the Gleneagles G8 summit in July.

The UK chancellor told BBC News 170bn of debt had been written off, aid to Africa had doubled, and health and education programmes organised.

But Mr Brown, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, conceded trade negotiations had failed.

Campaigners say there is still "a long way to go" to tackle global poverty.

It is 100% debt relief for the first batch of countries. This has never before happened in the history of the world
Gordon Brown

"Let's be clear what's been achieved," Mr Brown told Radio 4's Today programme.

"It is 100% debt relief for the first batch of countries, it can go through to 38 countries - we want it to be 68 countries - but 170bn of debt has been written off.

"This has never before happened in the history of the world."

And he said the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis, launched on Friday at the World Economic Forum, "wouldn't have happened" without pressure from the Gleneagles summit.

The campaign, which aims to treat 50 million people in the next 10 years, received a $600m (337m) boost from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on Friday.

Education plan

"We've got 15 countries to agree that they'll move to 0.7% on aid, so we've got a doubling of aid for Africa," Mr Brown added.

He also cited an education plan - which aims to provide by 2015 primary schooling for 110 million children who currently receive no provision - as a further example of progress made on global poverty since Gleneagles.

"Practical things are being done in the name of people churches, faith groups, campaigners all over Britain who came out in the thousands, petitioned in the millions, demanded action at Live 8," he said.

"These things are being done."

But there had been "no breakthrough" in World Trade Organisation talks, he said.

"It's not that people haven't been trying - they should be applauded for the efforts that were made - but it is that we need new momentum for these trade negotiations."

Europe and the US should now lead with a new proposal, he added.

'Continued pressure'

The Jubilee Debt Campaign acknowledged there had been some progress since Gleneagles.

There has been progress but there's a need for continued pressure and scrutiny to make sure commitments are kept
Jubilee Debt Campaign

"But, in terms of debt cancellation, a lot of countries are still left out and a lot of debts are still left out," spokeswoman Caroline Pearce said.

"There has been progress but there's a need for continued pressure and scrutiny to make sure commitments are kept."

The campaign also says that any progress made at the summit has been marred by a deal to cancel part of Nigeria's $30bn (17bn) debt to Western nations.

Nigeria must still pay off $12bn (6.8bn) in coming months including paying off $1.7bn (1bn) to the UK government.

'Hypocrisy'

"This means the UK will take from Nigeria almost exactly twice as much as it gave in aid to the whole of Africa in 2005," the campaign's Trisha Rogers said.

The World Development Movement accused Mr Brown of "hypocrisy", owing to his role as head of the IMF interim committee.

A spokesman said: "The reason why lots of countries do not qualify for debt relief is because of the onerous conditions placed on them by the IMF."

Christian Aid policy director Claire Melamed said it was important the world "keeps its eyes and ears" on progress made after Gleneagles.

"A lot of promises are ongoing and are to be delivered over 10 years. A lot can happen in 10 years," she added.




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