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Micro credit and discredit.

We congratulate Muhammed Yunnus and the Gameen Bank of Bangladesh on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006.

They earned the prize because they created a system of credit which enables the poor to borrow small amounts to finance cottage industries thereby enabling them to improve the lives of their families. It has had an impact on millions in Bangladesh and microcredit has now become a world-wide movement.

The discredit in this story belongs to Canada. Our government has reduced its support for these microcredit programs. In the year 2000, the Canadian International Development Agency contributed $78 million. This allocation was steadily reduced until in 2005, the amount was only $25 million. Canada will receive no prizes for this performance.

We understand the thinking that guides Canada's foreign aid programs. Canada usually funds projects overseas that will spend a large part of their allocations on goods and services that originate in Canada. Since microcredit projects spend nothing in Canada, it has little value to the funders. The Nobel Peace Prize should provide the incentive to make us take steps to end this kind of self-serving aid. We should support projects that give real aid to the beneficiaries.

We can make a start with the Global Microcredit Summit which will be held in Halifax (Nov. 12-15, 2006). More than 2,000 delegates from more than 100 countries are expected. They are gathering to assess the progress made toward the Summit's goal of reaching 100 million of the poorest families in the world. It is a chance for Canada to display real generosity and to support an effective aid program.

We suggest that Prime Minister Stephen Harper attend the Summit and bring a check of $78 million or more with him. With this gesture he will show the world that Canada is serious about economic development programs that aid the very poorest people in the world.

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Title Annotation:COMMENTS; withdrawal of government funding
Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Oct 23, 2006
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