One Year Anniversary of Panama Papers Leak

More than 11 million documents were leaked from a law firm based in Panama a year ago today. The "Panama Papers" implicate various global figures and officials in possible acts of fraud and corruption.

"The Panama Papers reveal a secret network of shell companies and firms that can hide when government officials steal from their people,” noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. “Congress can shine a spotlight on these activities. Congress needs to act.” 

Several members of Congress are expected to introduce legislation to help law enforcement track who actually owns anonymous shell companies. The House Financial Services Committee set up a special subcommittee on terrorist financing to address this issue.

"Congress can make it harder to use anonymous shell companies to launder money,” stated LeCompte. "Anonymous shell companies are part of why poor countries lose more money in tax evasion and corruption than they receive in aid.”

Read more about the Panama Papers

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Eric LeCompte Featured in National Catholic Reporter

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in National Catholic Reporter speaking on Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Debt Crisis in Puerto Rico Comes to a Head

By: Michael Sean Winters

"'Conceivably, this could be one of the largest debt-relief initiatives in the history of fiscal crises if the board remains true to the goals it has set for itself,' Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, told me. LeCompte is in San Juan for the meeting and has played a leading role helping to guide religious leaders on the island as they fight to prevent austerity measures that would target the poor.

'The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to show phenomenal leadership, not only on resolving the crisis in Puerto Rico, but on global debt issues, too,' said LeCompte. 'The church's consistent policy stance flows from sustained moral reflection on these issues of debt and development.'"

Read more here.

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Puerto Rico Oversight Board Holds Economic Growth Meeting

Puerto Rico's Financial Oversight and Management Board meets in San Juan to discuss economic growth proposals for the island. At its March meeting, the board accepted Governor Rosselló's fiscal plan for a balanced budget.

"There is no path for economic growth in Puerto Rico without a major debt restructuring," stated Eric LeCompte, who is attending the San Juan meetings. LeCompte is the head of the religious development group Jubilee USA and he testified to the oversight board during their November meeting. "The island needs to be very careful about further austerity programs as these programs can deter economic growth."

Last December, a bipartisan Congressional task force made economic growth recommendation for the island.‎ Puerto Rico's Archbishop Roberto González and Bible Society head Reverend Heriberto Martínez sent a letter to Congress last week urging action on the healthcare and child tax benefit recommendations. Medicaid in Puerto Rico is currently funded under a block grant. When it runs out, the island is expected to only receive enough funding to pay for less than one-third of its Medicaid related expenses.

"Both Congress and the oversight board have roles to play in resolving Puerto Rico's financial crisis," stated LeCompte. "Any decisions that are made in the coming months must carefully consider how vulnerable communities will be impacted."

Read the letter Archbishop González and Reverend Martínez sent to Congress

Read the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico's recommendations 

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House Rejects Puerto Rico Healthcare Amendment

The House Rules Committee rejected an amendment that would‎ allocate Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico at an equal level to US states.‎ Medicaid in Puerto Rico is currently funded under a 'block grant' that will run out this year. When it runs out, the island will receive a set amount of funding that is expected to cover less than one-third of Puerto Rico's Medicaid-related expenses. Medicaid reform was a key element of the recommendations made last year by the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico. If the Rules Committee had accepted the amendment, the full House of Representatives would have voted on it during the American Health Care Act debate.

"As Puerto Rico restructures its debt and seeks to prevent austerity, the island needs equal access to healthcare funding," stated Eric LeCompte, who testified to Congress on these issues. LeCompte is the executive director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA. "Although the amendment failed, it's now clear there is an eventual path to secure this funding for Puerto Rico."

The amendment was submitted by Puerto Rico's Representative Jenniffer González-Colón and Representative Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa. Puerto Rico's Archbishop Roberto González Nieves and Bible Society head Reverend Heriberto Martínez-Rivera sent a letter to Congressional leadership yesterday urging them to act on task force recommendations on Medicaid, Medicare and the Child Tax Credit.

"You moved Congress to act for Puerto Rico," Archbishop González and Reverend Martínez write in a letter sent to Republican and Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate. "As our island prepares to restructure its debt, we need you to act again."

Read the text of the amendment

Read the religious leaders' letter to Congressional leadership

Read the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico's recommendations 

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Jubilee USA Featured in Agenzia Fides

Jubilee USA was recently featured in Agenzia Fides. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article. 

Religious Leaders Ask the United States to Prevent Financial Crises in the Country

By: Staff

"Religious leaders in their letter, sent to Fides, recall that they have been working to solve the crisis of Puerto Rico since 2015... and have Jubilee USA and national religious organizations like the Catholic Bishops Conference of the United States and the United Church of Christ as partners"

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Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Urge Congress to Pass Healthcare Laws as Debt Crisis Looms

Puerto Rico's Archbishop Roberto González and Bible Society head Reverend Heriberto Martínez are asking Congress to pass child tax benefit and healthcare recommendations made by a bipartisan Congressional task force. The House of Representative's rules committee is debating some of the recommendations for a possible floor vote a part of the American Health Care Act. Passing this legislation, the religious leaders argue, will help as the island restructures its debt.

"You moved Congress to act for Puerto Rico," the religious leaders write in a letter sent to Republican and Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives and the Senate. "As our island prepares to restructure its debt, we need you to act again."

In addition to focusing on the island's evolving financial crisis, Archbishop González and Reverend Martínez encouraged Congress to move forward additional actions that could stop future debt crisis in Puerto Rico and in developing countries across the globe.

"We want to prevent financial crises that impact all children in our world‎," González and Martínez write in their letter to Congress. "Many of these countries, like Puerto Rico, find themselves in crisis because of the need for US law that promotes conservative, responsible lending and borrowing."

‎The religious leaders in their letter acknowledge working on resolving the crisis in Puerto Rico since 2015 with their partners at Jubilee USA and national religious groups like the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United Church of Christ.

"The Archbishop and Reverend Martínez are a steadfast and critical moral force working to solve this crisis," stated Jubilee USA director Eric LeCompte, who advises the religious leaders and testified to Congress on solving the crisis. "They are tireless and work on every possible solution to help their people."

Read the full letter the religious leaders wrote to Congressional leadership

Read the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico's recommendations 

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G20 Finance Ministers Discuss Global Economic Stability

G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet today and tomorrow in Baden-Baden, Germany.

"Debt reduction, tackling global tax avoidance and trade policies are being discussed at the G20," stated Jubilee USA's executive director Eric LeCompte who tracks the meetings. "Already we see some new dynamics on issues like trade with new leadership coming from Washington."

It is the first G20 meeting for new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. In recent years G20 leaders seemed to use the same playbook on trade policies. President Trump was elected criticizing trade policies previously supported by the G20. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is pressing for common statements on trade.

"There is a lot of pressure at this meeting to get leaders on the same page on trade," said LeCompte. "Generally, I'm concerned about continuing progress on debt and transparency issues."

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Eric LeCompte Featured in Public Finance International

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in Public Finance International speaking on debt and interest rates. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Fed Increases Interest Rates as US Economy Gains Momentum

By: Emma Rumney

"Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, which advocates for a fairer financial system for developing countries, said: 'Over the last few years, poor countries took out more loans from wealthy countries because interest rates were so low.

'As the Fed raises rates and the dollar becomes stronger, many poor countries will see debt payments going up. Too many poor countries are still struggling to recover after the global financial crisis and I’m worried about their increasing debt burdens.'"

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Federal Reserve Raises Rates and Poor Countries Pay More Debt

Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA, releases the following statement on the Federal Reserve raising interest rates by .25 points:

"Over the last few years, poor countries took out more loans from wealthy countries ‎because interest rates were so low. As the Fed raises rates and the dollar becomes stronger, many poor countries will see debt payments going up.

"Too many poor countries are still struggling to recover after the global financial crisis and I'm worried about their increasing debt burdens."

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Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Ask Congress to Pass Debt Crisis Actions

"‎As religious leaders in Puerto Rico, we urge you to act on behalf of the 3.4 million American citizens living on the island," wrote two prominent ministers to Congress about ‎policies to help the debt-troubled island. Archbishop Roberto González Nieves and Bible Society leader Reverend Heriberto Martínez-Rivera want Congress to adopt health care and child tax benefit recommendations proposed by the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico. 

"Our people are suffering," the religious leaders write in a letter sent to Congress. "Nearly 60% of our children live in poverty and thousands of our brothers and sisters flee to the US mainland each year in search of work, tearing apart families and communities."

The Congressional task force estimates that extending the Child Tax Credit would generate roughly $3 billion for the island's economy. Congress created this task force as part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA, which passed to address the financial crisis last June.

"I'm grateful that Congressional leadership supports these recommendations," stated Jubilee USA director Eric LeCompte, who advises the religious leaders on Puerto Rico's debt crisis. LeCompte testified to Congress and the oversight board on solving the crisis. "Congress needs to follow through on its part to resolve the crisis."

On March 13th, the Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico, also created by PROMESA, approved the latest fiscal plan presented by the island's Governor. The approved plan enables Puerto Rico to pursue debt restructuring negotiations with the island's creditors. The oversight board predicts that Puerto Rico must make deep debt cuts as high as 80% to resolve the crisis. A halt on debt lawsuits against Puerto Rico ends in May.

"In your important work in addressing the island's financial and developing humanitarian crisis, we pray you will weigh any decision that you make in light of how it impacts our children and the children of future generations," González and Martínez write in their letter to Congress. "These children played no role in creating this crisis but stand to lose the most if we do not resolve it. ‎"

Read the full letter the religious leaders wrote to Congress

Read the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico's recommendations 

Read more about the task force

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