13 Jul 2005

Vanuatu aid organisations welcome call for debt relief

10:44 am on 13 July 2005

Aid workers in Vanuatu are welcoming a proposal by a government minister for international organisations to cancel its debts.

The Trade Minister, James Bule, has told the Daily Post newspaper that Vanuatu should use the Pacific Island Forum's Pacific Plan to push for debt cancellation.

Helen Corrigan works for the group Wan Smal Bag, which uses music and theatre skills to teach young people about social issues such as AIDS.

Ms Corrigan says the youth of Vanuatu stand to gain a lot if the government spent more money on urban projects, instead of paying off debt.

"People under 25 make up almost 50 per cent of the population here and there is a real issue with unemployment; young people coming into town, attending school, and then, either not completing school for a variety of reasons, some of which are lack of school fees or whatever, and then they're just hanging around. And these numbers are increasing, you know, throughout, not just in the areas that we're working in, but throughout Port Vila."

Officials say Vanautu owes 1-hundred and 15 million US dollars, and the country also has a large trade deficit.