Jubilee USA Efforts Featured in Catholic Philly

Catholic Philly featured the US Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA's joint letter to the White House calling for debt relief for poor countries affected by the coronavirus. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two leading proponents of debt relief for developing countries urged the White House to lead the call for a moratorium on debt payments for poor nations so they can devote funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The request came in an April 8 letter from Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of faith-based development and advocacy groups.

The letter said a moratorium would aid the 76 poorest countries while safeguarding U.S. economic interests.

“The leadership of the U.S. government is vital to ensuring that our world will emerge from this pandemic with greater resilience and a renewed understanding of the greater interconnectedness of humanity,” the letter said.

A decision to suspend debt payments would allow for a better way to assess debt sustainability and vulnerabilities and, if necessary, open a process to restructure debt, the letter added.

The request comes as the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers from the European Union and industrial and emerging market nations were preparing to discuss the issue during meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank starting April 14.

G-20 finance officials have long expressed concern about the high level of debt of developing nations and emerging market economies.

“Suspending debt payments, with no interest, can immediately allow countries to access funds to bolster their health systems and support needed stimulus packages in the developing world, allowing these countries to provide for their own health safety and security,” the letter said.

Bishop Malloy and LeCompte also wrote that the financial crisis that has emerged as the pandemic grows threatens U.S. imports and exports to developing countries.

“Providing a suspension of debt payments and debt relief will help safeguard our common interests of returning the U.S. economy to prosperity and growth,” they said.

 

Read more here

Read More

Catholic Bishops Urge President Trump to Lead Global COVID-19 Debt Relief

Hundreds of World Leaders and Development Groups Call for Debt Cancellation

Washington DC - The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network, an interfaith religious group, is urging President Trump to lead the G20 on coronavirus global debt relief plans. The groups argue debt relief immediately allows developing countries to bolster healthcare and survive economic crises.

"As the G20 considers a suspension of debt payments from the 76 poorest countries in the world, the United States can lead the world, again, in calling on wealthy countries, the G20, the IMF and World Bank, to suspend debt  payments for developing countries," wrote Bishop David J. Malloy and Eric LeCompte in a letter to the President on Wednesday. "Suspending debt payments, with no interest, can immediately allow countries to access funds to bolster their health systems and support needed stimulus packages in the developing world—allowing these countries to provide for their own health, safety and security."

Malloy, writing on behalf of the US Catholic Bishops, chairs international policy for the largest single religious denomination in the United States. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis along with other major Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders championed debt relief policies with Jubilee USA Network since the 1990s.

The letter lands at the White House as hundreds of world leaders and development groups are calling on the G20, IMF and World Bank to stop collecting debt of developing countries. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development last week called for a trillion dollars of debt to be cancelled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Developing countries are unprepared to deal with the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus," said LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. LeCompte's organization detailed a plan to the IMF in March to deal with the global crisis. "Most of Africa only has about 50 critical care beds per country. Without action, tens of thousands of people will die because they can't access life saving health services."

On Thursday, IMF Head Kristalina Georgieva foreshadowed next week's Spring IMF and World Bank Meetings. Georgieva warned that our current financial crisis is on par with the Great Depression and encouraged debt cancellation and relief plans for the 76 poorest countries in the world.

"I agree with the Fund that we need to expand debt relief and poor countries should stop making debt payments," shared LeCompte. "However, the IMF thinking is too small on the amount of debt relief needed. We need to start with at least hundreds of billions of dollars in debt relief measures, not billions."

On Tuesday, groups representing "Jubilee" organizations around the world wrote the heads of the Fund and the World Bank to press broader aid and debt relief efforts. The letter was sent from the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, the European Network on Debt and Development, Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, Jubilee Germany, the Latin American Network on Debt and Development and Rights, Oxfam International, the French Catholic - La Plateforme Française Dette & Développement, the Society for International Development and Jubilee USA Network.

Read US Catholic Bishops, Jubilee USA Letter here

Read Kristalina Georgieva's "Curtain Raiser" Speech here

Read Jubilee USA's March 23rd letter to IMF on a health and economic COVID-19 plan  here

Read Jubilee USA's April 1st letter to the IMF on reserve gold funds here

Read Global Jubilee Groups Letter on Aid and Debt Relief here
Read More

Reuters Features Jubilee, Catholic Bishop Letter on Debt Relief

Thomson Reuters featured the US Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA's joint letter to the White House calling for debt relief. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Catholic bishops, faith groups urge Trump to back debt relief for poor countries

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an alliance of faith groups have urged President Donald Trump to champion a moratorium on debt payments for poor countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has triggered a global recession.

In a letter sent to the U.S. president on Wednesday, the groups said U.S. leadership was needed to both to help the 76 poorest countries in the world combat the pandemic and safeguard U.S. economic interests.

A move by rich countries, the Group of 20 major economies, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to suspend debt payments for those countries would allow them to bolster their health systems and provide for their own health safety, the groups wrote in a letter dated Wednesday.

The novel coronavirus that emerged in China in December has raced around the globe, infecting 1.41 million people and killing 87,700, according to a Reuters tally.

The IMF and World Bank, backed by the World Health Organization, have called on China, the United States and other bilateral creditors to temporarily suspend debt payments by the poorest countries so they could use the money to halt the spread of the disease and mitigate its financial impact.

G20 finance ministers and central bankers are due to consider the issue when they meet online next week during the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

The letter from the Catholic bishops and Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit alliance of religious, development and advocacy groups, comes amid growing concern about the high level of debt of developing countries and emerging market economies.

“The current financial crisis threatens U.S. imports and exports from and to the developing world,” the bishops and Jubilee USA wrote. “Providing a suspension of debt payments and debt relief will help safeguard our common interests of returning the U.S. economy to prosperity and growth.”

The groups said the debt payment moratorium should both be interest-free, and expose all debts, including private and predatory loans.

Such a decision could help better assess debt sustainability and vulnerabilities, and, if warranted, trigger a process to restructure debt, the groups told the U.S. president.

Lending by Western countries and multilateral institutions slowed after a major round of debt restructuring in 1996, but the Chinese government, banks and companies have dramatically expanded their lending to developing countries since then.

Read more here

Read More

Jubilee USA Statement on IMF's Kristalina Georgieva "Curtain Raiser" Speech

Washington DC - IMF Head Kristalina Georgieva foreshadowed next week's Spring IMF and World Bank Meetings with her annual "curtain raiser" speech.

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations Finance Expert, releases the following statement on Georgieva speech:

"Georgieva's speech acknowledges that we are now facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"We're impressed by much of the forward thinking of the IMF. We need to deal with the health and economic crisis now and start to think about recovery.

"I agree with the Fund that we need to expand debt relief and poor countries should stop making debt payments. However, the IMF thinking on the amount of debt relief needed is not enough. We need at least hundreds of billions of debt relief measures, not billions."

Read Kristalina Georgieva's "Curtain Raiser" Speech here

Read Jubilee USA's March 23rd letter to IMF on a health and economic COVID-19 plan  here

Read Jubilee USA's April 1st letter to the IMF on reserve gold funds here

Read More

National Catholic Reporter Features Eric LeCompte on Jubilee, Future of Catholic Social Mission

The National Catholic Reporter featured Eric LeCompte's take on the future of the Catholic church's social mission. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

The church after coronavirus: new understandings of social mission

A more resilient world

Eric LeCompte is the executive director of Jubilee USA, an alliance of U.S. organizations and faith communities that advocates for fair debt arbitration and debt relief.

Under a strict coronavirus quarantine and curfew across Puerto Rico, the 3.5 million residents of the Caribbean island continue to experience earthquakes and struggle to recover from 2017 hurricanes. A debt crisis had already shuttered schools and health services in the U.S. territory, where almost 60% of kids live in poverty.

Increasing services for the poor and sick as the coronavirus spreads is Caritas Catholic Charities Puerto Rico. Caritas' parish-based groups and their coordinator, Fr. Enrique "Kike" Camacho, and his team find people that need help. Then, Caritas parish-based groups across the island are deployed, risking their lives every day to bring food and medicine to those in need in barrios, under bridges and in public squares.

As the global coronavirus takes lives and wreaks havoc on our economy, the church and the faithful are on the front lines. Offering up their lives to save us across our planet are Catholic sisters and nuns and the incredible health institutions they founded. Catholic Charities, Caritas and Catholic Relief Services are expanding their services to the vulnerable at this moment. Diocesan soup kitchens and Catholic Worker Houses, while being more flexible in how they deliver food, are quickening their pace to get the food to the people who need it most.

The Holy Father proclaims that lives, in this tragic moment, must not be sacrificed for economic growth — that if we prioritize wealth for a few, we will witness a "viral genocide."

The sad truth about this crisis is that if the social teaching of the U.S. bishops' conference and the Holy See had been heeded by world leaders, both our economic and healthcare systems would have been better prepared for the pandemic.

When asked what this plague means for the social mission of our church, the response is that in times of crisis the social mission of our church becomes more vibrant, more vital and most true to the call of the Gospel.

As the International Monetary Fund said March 28, we are in a recession and we risk a financial crisis graver than the Great Depression. It will be the social mission of the church that illuminates a path towards a more resilient post-pandemic world.

 

Read more here

Read More

Crux, San Francisco Chronicle, Catholic News Service, Others Feature Eric LeCompte on Economy, Vatican

The Catholic News Service featured Jubilee USA's work on moving debt relief for poor countries as a response to COVID-19 and the global recession as part of an article on Cardinal Tagle's call for debt relief. Crux, the San Francisco Chronicle and thousands of other news outlets included Eric's comments in their stories. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Declare a jubilee: Pandemic is time to forgive debts, cardinal suggests

Eric LeCompte, executive director of the Jubilee USA Network, a multireligious group that advocates for foreign debt relief for the world’s poorest countries, told Catholic News Service the network is urging the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and wealthy countries “to suspend debt payments for poor countries so they can bolster healthcare; offer a process for debt to be eliminated for developing countries; make it easier for all countries to restructure their debt; and provide aid and financing to all countries so they can survive the growing health and economic crisis.”

The world’s poorest countries “need total relief now so they can bolster health care and survive the economic crisis” that is being created by the coronavirus pandemic and will “likely be the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression,” he said.

LeCompte urged Catholics to lobby their governments “to ensure there are stimulus packages that protect the most vulnerable and ensure that workers continue to get paychecks” and to “support Catholic Charities, Caritas and Catholic Relief Services as they are the first line of defense as the economic crisis worsens.”

Read more here.

Read More

IMF Gold Reserves Can Provide Coronavirus Relief Says Development Group

Washington, DC - As the International Monetary Fund, G20 and world leaders consider urgent actions to confront the economic impacts of the coronavirus, a development group says IMF money is available to prevent crisis and support healthcare.

"We believe the Fund should take additional, deeper actions to expand debt relief, aid to the poorest countries in the world as well as offer greater relief to the so-called Middle Income Countries," wrote Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte in a letter to the head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva. "This is possible if the fund were to access the $140 billion we believe to be held in the IMF's gold sales reserve. These monies should be utilized to expand debt relief for the 76 poorest countries and other developing countries."

In a review of the latest IMF financial statements and calculating the current market value of the Fund's gold reserves, Jubilee USA estimates $140 billion is available in a "rainy day" fund.

"We are bracing for what could be the worst economic storm in our lifetimes and the time to use IMF gold reserves is now," stated LeCompte a United Nations finance expert who monitored IMF policies for the last decade. "We've used these funds before for Haiti after it was devastated by an earthquake and to get emergency aid to countries hit with the Ebola epidemic. Now is the time to use these funds again."

In order to offer debt relief and grant-like aid after Haiti's 2010 earthquake and when Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea were fighting Ebola in 2014 and 2015, monies in the SDA gold sales reserve was utilized.

On Monday a high-level Vatican official and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development called for a debt "Jubilee" for developing countries. Last week the IMF expanded debt relief facilities and encouraged the G20 to suspend debt payments for the 76 poorest countries.

"Over the last two weeks as the coronavirus took lives and pushed our economy into a recession, world leaders are trying to act quickly to stop a financial crisis that could rival the Great Depression," said LeCompte.

Read Jubilee USA's Letter to the IMF on Reserve Gold Funds here

Read United Nations' Agency and Vatican Calls for COVID-19 Debt Relief here

Read IMF Announcement on Coronavirus Debt Relief and Increased Lending Resources here 

Read Analysis of G20 Emergency Meeting on Coronavirus Health and Economic Impacts here

Read IMF and World Bank Call for G20 to Halt Debt Collection for Poor Countries here 

Read on Covid-19 Spread, IMF and World Bank Signal Debt Relief for Poor Countries here 

Read about Jubilee USA Urging Immediate IMF Covid-19 Action here

Read Jubilee USA's March 23rd Letter to IMF on COVID-19 here
Read More

Jubilee Letter to the IMF on Reserve Gold Funds

April 1, 2020


Kristalina Georgieva
The International Monetary Fund
700 19th St NW,
Washington, DC 20431

 

"And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” --- Luke 3:10-11

 

Managing Director Georgieva,

Since Jubilee USA leadership wrote you on March 23rd, we are pleased to see some critical Fund responses to protect the vulnerable and all of us from financial crisis in the face of the coronavirus.

We welcome the following actions: 

  • The expansion and use of the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to provide debt relief and health service aid for the poorest countries in the world
  • Increased financing to support all countries who need resources to prevent financial crisis, increase social protection floors and ensure workers can continue to be paid
  • The calls of the IMF and World Bank to the G20 to suspend all debt payments for the 76 poorest countries in the world
  • Support of the G20 and world leaders to come up with a comprehensive action plan on debt vulnerabilities by mid-April
  • Exploring processes with the G20 and Financial Stability Board to protect us from a global financial crisis

The above actions are positive steps and we are grateful for your leadership in moving forward these vital actions.

We believe the Fund should take additional, deeper actions to expand debt relief, aid to the poorest countries in the world as well as offer greater relief to the so-called Middle Income Countries.

This is possible if the fund were to access the $140 billion we believe to be held in the IMF's gold sales reserve. These monies should be utilized to expand debt relief for the 76 poorest countries and other developing countries.

If our calculations are correct, based on the latest IMF financial statements available from 2019 and calculating the current price of gold, we believe the fund has about $140 billion in a "rainy day” fund. We are witnessing a growing storm, perhaps the worst economic hurricane we will ever see in our lifetimes. The time to utilize and access these monies is now.

In our work together, we've accessed these monies before. In 2010 when Haiti was devastated by an earthquake and in 2014 when Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia fell prey to the Ebola epidemic, these funds were creatively used to cancel debt and provide emergency aid.

While the expansion of the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust is an incredible step, due to the limited funds in the account, 29 countries may be eligible for partial debt relief and aid. The funds available in the SDA gold sales reserve could provide full cancellation and additional aid for many countries facing great need. 

Further, we invite the IMF and World Bank to also suspend debt payments for poor and developing countries.

We again point to our letter of March 23rd and the analysis and four point plan that we detailed to lift the vulnerable and prevent a global financial crisis. Generally, that letter encourages urgent action along these points:

  • Expand debt relief and aid for developing countries impacted by COVID-19 through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and other processes
  • Enhance debt restructuring, issue debt payment moratoriums and create expedient debt reprofiling processes for countries impacted by the coronavirus
  • Mobilize additional financing resources to support increased needs
  • Advise countries on public budget transparency, financial crisis prevention and raising revenues

Managing Director Georgieva, we know that we are likely confronting the worst economic and health crisis in our lifetimes and we look forward to continue working with you to take bold, urgent and needed actions for our survival.

In hope,

Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

 

Full letter PDF here

Read More