As Hurricane Irma heads to the US coast, a religious development group is calling for debt payments to be suspended until Antigua and Barbuda and other severely impacted Caribbean nations recover from the storm. Jubilee USA is also calling for grants, as opposed to loans, to be made available for the island countries and the US territories.
"The island of Barbuda was hit hard and fourteen hundred people are homeless. The country of Antigua and Barbuda and other severely impacted islands should stop paying debt until they rebuild and recover," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte serves on United Nation debt expert groups. "The International Monetary Fund can authorize a moratorium on debt payments so Antigua and Barbuda could immediately access $3 million for recovery efforts."
Antigua and Barbuda is scheduled to make a debt payment of $3 million to the International Monetary Fund today. The Caribbean islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin and the British and US Virgin Islands faced some of the most severe impacts as Hurricane Irma swept across the Caribbean. The US territory of Puerto Rico, although hit by the storm, escaped the full level of destruction originally predicted.
"For all islands impacted by Irma, we need to see reconstruction grants, not more loans," said LeCompte. "The White House and Congress must continue to make these grants available to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Similarly, the IMF and World Bank should make grants available to other islands and nations affected."