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Learning English - Words in the News
23 December, 2005 - Published 12:00 GMT
IMF discuss debt relief for 20 countries
Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, may have its debts cancelled
Little girl in Mali scrapes a rice dish

Directors of the Intenational Monetary Fund have been meeting this week to discuss putting into action a fifty billion dollar programme to relieve the debts of 20 of the world's poorest countries. The plan was agreed in Scotland last July. This report from Mark Gregory:

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The Reuters news agency claims to have seen a memo written by IMF officials. It recommends that debt relief should be withheld from six poor countries until they've done more to reform their economies. The nations affected are Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Senegal. The timing of the memo is crucial as the IMF board is about to decide the final form of a debt relief plan. This was agreed amid massive publicity at the G8 summit of the major industrial powers held at Gleneagles in Scotland last July.

The plan involves cancelling debts owed by 20 of the most impoverished nations to international agencies, including the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank. A decision to exclude nearly a third of the countries on that initial list would be extremely controversial, as debt cancellation is a key element in much hyped plans to alleviate global poverty.

The IMF board, which is dominated by the governments of major aid donors, is expected to announce its decision after a meeting in Washington. The six countries likely to be denied debt cancellation maybe eligible once they take specified steps to tighten controls on government spending and deal with problems - as the IMF sees it - in the way they manage their economies.

Listen to the words

says, states that something is true

debt relief should be withheld
help with the money owed should not be given at the moment

extremely important and necessary

amid massive publicity
during a time when there was lots of public attention on the plan

impoverished nations
very poor countries where most people are living in poverty

to exclude
not to include, not to allow, deliberately to leave out

extremely controversial
something that would cause many disagreements

much hyped plans
plans that have recieved large amounts of attention to make them seem particularly important and good

major aid donors
the organisations which can contribute the most money

tighten controls on government spending
make governments become more careful about how much money they spend and what they spend it on

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