The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 2870, which would
facilitate protection of tropical forests through debt restructuring with
developing countries with tropical forests. The conservation of tropical
forests is a major component of the Administration's environmental policy.
This bill is consistent with U.S. bilateral environmental initiatives that
have resulted in the protection of tropical forests in Central America and
Indonesia, and with multilateral initiatives, such as the Global
Environmental Facility, which leverages contributions of other countries to
provide new resources for environmental projects.
The Administration, however, is concerned about the potential FY 1999
financing of this program. The Administration opposes reducing the
requested amounts for the Global Environment Facility or bilateral
environment programs, or shifting debt relief from Africa to other regions
in order to finance activities envisioned in this bill. There would be
serious consequences of cutbacks in other programs as well. Even under the
best of circumstances, it would be difficult to have this program ready for
implementation in FY 1999. In FY 2000 and FY 2001, there would be more
flexibility to allocate additional funds to tropical forest preservation.