Paris, June 23: Kenyan President William Ruto does not hold back when describing the global lending system: it is “unfair, it’s punitive, it doesn’t give everybody a fair chance”.
Ruto made his blunt assessment in an interview with AFP on the sidelines of a two-day summit in Paris seeking to revamp the international financial order to better help developing nations combat poverty and climate change.
Currently, poorer countries have to pay as much as eight times more in interest rates than rich nations “because they are profiled as risky”, Ruto said.
But the Kenyan leader said his country is not looking for handouts.
“Some people do not want a mechanism where people are equal, they want us to continue this conversation where we are looking for help,” Ruto said.
“We are tired of this story” painting Africans as “victims of climate change” who are “looking for favours” and “complaining”, he said.
“We do not want to look for help. We want to participate in the solution,” Ruto said late Thursday, on the eve of the summit’s final day.
He wants to attract private investment more than development aid for his eastern African nation, but he is also calling for reform of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
He also backs a rethink of debt management of developing nations and the deployment of international taxes on shipping, aviation and financial transactions.
Kenya pays $10 billion a year to service its debt.
“If we use it instead for development of the country, it will be immediate, it will be big resources and it will have huge impact,” Ruto said.
He said this could be achieved if the debt owed to international lenders, including the World Bank and IMF, were converted into a 50-year loan facility with a 20-year grace period.
This way, Kenya would “not run away” from its debt, which would have “just been rescheduled.”
French President Emmanuel Macron told the summit, which ends Friday, that the global financial system needs a jolt as “countries shouldn’t ever have to choose between reducing poverty and protecting the planet”.