The Miami Herald interviewed Eric LeCompte on the impact of the coronavirus and global economic slowdown in Latin American and the Caribbean. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.
COVID-19 is hitting Caribbean and Latin American economies hard. Can they survive?
Eric LeCompte, who leads the development group Jubilee USA and serves on United Nations debt expert groups, said there is a way that countries like Jamaica can be helped. Lenders like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund need to expand debt relief to all countries.
“It should not only be for the poorest countries but Caribbean countries and Latin America countries should be able to qualify for that expanded debt relief. That’s what we’re pushing,” LeCompte said. “Countries need to prioritize fighting COVID-19 and billions can be freed up right away by halting debt payments.”
LeCompte said the IMF and the World Bank are calling on wealthy nations to allow for debt payment moratoriums. But most countries in the Caribbean, despite being among the world’s highly indebted, do not qualify for such moratoriums or lower-interest loans because they are considered to be middle-income countries. But they should qualify, he said.
“We have more than 11 Caribbean economies that are facing debt distress. Across the Caribbean youth unemployment is high on almost every island; we have poverty rates that range between 20 and 45 percent in many of the small islands,” LeCompte said. “Even if the coronavirus doesn’t lead to the type of major financial crisis, or even depression some economists are forecasting, no matter what, the Caribbean will be one of the worst impacted areas by even short-term economic shocks.”
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