WASHINGTON (NNPA) —President Obama has signed into law a bill calling for the United States to take the lead in forgiving debt owed to international lenders by earthquake-ravaged Haiti. The bill, signed April 26, urges major multinational institutions to cancel all debt owed to them by Haiti and recommends that all aid to the country for the next five years be provided in the form of grants rather than loans.

“The president’s signature on this bill is further indication of the United States’ support for the people of Haiti,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who sponsored the House version of the bill. said, “I authored this legislation because Haiti’s immense debt burden would have severely impeded the country’s recovery efforts.”

Under the measure, the Treasury Department is required to instruct U.S. executives at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other institutions to use the force and influential power of the United States to cancel Haiti’s debt.

The Treasury said that Haiti owed $828 million to several institutions. The Inter-American Development Bank, said it would forgive give the $447 million Haiti owed it, and convert undistributed loans into grants. Other organizations, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, have begun to make moves to relieve Haitian debt, the AP reported.

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