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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report. A group of international aid, religious and other groups is calling for debt cancellation for Nepal. The country is struggling with the effects of a powerful earthquake on April 25 that struck the central part of the country near the capital, Katmandu. More than 8,000 people died in the quake. The United Nations says 8 million people, more than one fourth of the country’s population, has been affected by the disaster. Jubilee Network USA is a coalition of religious and aid groups that works to end extreme poverty. The group, a non-governmental organization, or NGO, says Nepal owes a total of $3.8 billion to foreign creditors including the World Bank and the Asian Development bank. The coalition’s executive director Eric LeCompte says Nepal was repaying $220 million a year to international lenders before the quake. He says money to repay Nepal’s debt should go to repair, rebuild, and help the nation recover.
Mr. LeCompte says international lenders have cancelled millions of dollars in debt owed by the West African nations hit hard by the Ebola crisis. He says he believes the debt relief programs should come with requirements for greater openness and accountability. He says that means the money that would have gone to repayment goes to the citizens who need it most, instead of tax breaks for companies or the military. The International Monetary Fund’s Gerry Rice says the agency will send experts to study Nepal’s needs “as soon as the humanitarian situation subsides.” However, another deadly earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck Nepal on May 12.