IN REPLY REFER TO1-H-H
In enlarging the functions of the Belgian Relief Commission to cover the entire reconstruction and relief programme for Belgium, I would like to suggest for your approval the following matters:
1. To strengthen the C.R.B. organization I propose to set up a new executive committee, under my chairmanship, comprising representatives of the Food Administration, the Belgian Relief Commission, the War Industries Board, the Shipping Board, the War Trade Board and the Treasury; during my absence, Mr. Edgar Rickard, who has been associated with the Relief Commission from the beginning, to act for me as chairman of this executive committee.
2. Any programme will require an assurance of at least $200,000,000 to pay for the food and reconstruction materials necessary to be shipped from the United States, pending the restoration of trade conditions and of possible legislation providing money for definite reconstruction and credit relations to Europe. It is necessary that we should have at once an assurance of at least this sum of money under the present legislation and resources of the government. It would probably only be required over a period of from 8 to 10 months. In addition to this I have hopes of establishing some commercial credits for Belgian Banks with our banks, to take care of any programme over and above the amount outlined. In other words, to press the Belgians to use all the self help that they can find.
3. Under the present powers of the government, the Treasury is able to make advances to the Allied governments for purposes of the war, and it has, as you know, made very considerable advances to the Belgian government for the purposes of the relief and direct war expenditure. It would seem to me a right interpretation of the law for the Treasury to undertake to furnish $200,000,000 to the Belgian Government and stipulate that the money is to be used for expenditures in the United States through the Relief Commission. It appears to me that the prevention of starvation and disturbances in this population is vital to the making of the status quo during armistice, and is therefore a perfectly legitimate advance under the present law. In case peace should come suddenly, in order to avoid a debacle in the relief, it seems to me necessary that the Treasury should take a commitment to furnish this sum of money at once; otherwise, we shall have a lot of liabilities out in the United States and be entirely unable to fulfill them. I would propose that these advances should be subject to the Belgian Government finding from other governments all monies necessary to pay transportation charges on any materials shipped from here and to find monies from other quarters for all purchases made outside the United States.
4. Another feature of this matter which appeals greatly to Mr. Baruch and myself is the fact that with the armistice we will at once be closing a large number of factories on war work and if we can at once place in their hands orders for material from such sources as this, we will have contributed in a very large measure to prevent industrial difficulties in the United States, and that an assurance of such orders will be of profound value just at the present juncture.
I would be very glad indeed to have your views in the matter.
The President of the United States,
Washington, D. C.