Historic Yellen, Jubilee USA Meet - Breaking: G7 Supports Our Proposals

Friends,

On Tuesday, we organized high-ranking religious and labor leaders for a historic small meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen. The Secretary Yellen Jubilee USA Network Roundtable focused on global COVID response, climate, Puerto Rico, inequality, development aid, debt relief, emergency reserve funds (Special Drawing Rights or SDRs) and tax, transparency and bankruptcy policies to prevent future crises.

This morning at the G7 finance ministers meeting that Yellen attended, the G7 made their first public announcement in support of one of Jubilee USA's proposals that we've advocated for more than a year: Issuing emergency reserve currency (SDRs) for developing countries as they cope with COVID health and economic crisis.

In the coming weeks, as world leaders at G20 and IMF Meetings make their next round of decisions on global coronavirus response, we need you to take action now:

  • Over the last year we organized tens of thousands of petitions and actions to the G20, IMF, White House and Congress. In the Fall, faith communities across the US and partners around the world circulated our petition calling US and world leaders to take action to protect the vulnerable and our planet, address inequality, solve the current crisis and prevent future crises. Please sign the coronavirus relief petition now before we deliver it to world leaders in April.

  • Ask your organization, community or religious institution to join 220 groups and sign our letter to the White House, G20 and IMF on coronavirus crisis response. The letter is signed by the largest Unions, religious institutions and human rights, environmental and development groups. More than 150 Jewish, Muslim and Christian congregations and faith groups signed on to support our global coronavirus response policies to lift the vulnerable. Please make sure your group signs on before we deliver the letter in April to the White House, IMF and G20.

Thousands of global newspapers and media outlets covered our meeting with Yellen and leaders from the largest faith traditions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, religious institutions, under the banner of Jubilee USA, called for responses to the COVID crisis that protect the vulnerable and address inequality.

Leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Puerto Rico's Catholic Church and the Puerto Rico Evangelical General Bible Society attended the meeting. Jubilee USA Network was also joined by the AFL-CIO and International Trade Union Confederation.

The religious community is concerned that too many developing countries are left out of crisis response. The discussion with Yellen was critical on climate change because many of the most significant climate decisions will be made by Treasury, the IMF and G20.

Climate policies are a growing focus of the G7 and G20. In a recent letter to the G20, Yellen called for cooperation to address climate and support low-income countries to meet climate goals. President Biden’s climate executive order instructs Treasury to promote policies that protect the environment and address climate change.

Treasury Secretary Yellen during the Jubilee USA high-level meeting made her strongest and most expansive statements to date on using all of Treasury's power to combat climate change and protect the vulnerable. She made powerful statements on expanding debt relief to ALL developing countries, getting more aid to developing countries and using the Special Drawing Rights.

We have much more work to urgently do in the coming months. Now we need you to sign the petition and ask your organization or faith community to sign the letter.

Organized by Jubilee USA, 220 religious, labor and human rights groups signed a letter to Biden calling for aid, debt relief and new development processes to confront the pandemic. In February, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network sent a letter to Biden urging short-term solutions to confront the current crisis and long-term solutions to prevent future crises. Jubilee USA Network with Latindadd, our Latin American development partner, organized a letter with more than 200 organizations calling on the G20 to support a SDR issuance.

We are so grateful for your partnership and your support as we work on the most important efforts in Jubilee USA's history. The success of our coronavirus efforts mean the survival of tens of millions, stopping lost decades of development, protecting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions and emerging from this crisis with resilience for our people and our planet.

Gratefully,

Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

Twitter: @Eric_LeCompte
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

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National Catholic Reporter Quotes Eric LeCompte on Meeting with Secretary Yellen and Faith Leaders

National Catholic Reporter quotes Eric LeCompte on Jubilee USA's meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen along with major faith and labor leaders. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Papal priorities reflected in Yellen meeting, Catholic participants say

A typical day for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen includes nonstop meetings with presidents, finance ministers and heads of Fortune 500 companies. On March 16, she added faith leaders to her schedule in what is believed to be the first time the head of the Treasury Department sat down with a full delegation of high-ranking religious leaders. Catholic participants described the meeting as one that reflected many of the priorities of Pope Francis.

LeCompte said the timing of the meeting was essential, as it needed to take place ahead of next month's decisions by the G-20 and the International Monetary Fund, which will decide many of the issues that the Jubilee USA Network delegation presented."These are the civil leaders who are actually dealing with much of the domestic as well as global response to the crisis," said LeCompte, who praised Treasury officials for prioritizing the meeting and recognizing the contribution of faith leaders.

An official readout from the Treasury Department noted their commitment to tackling global inequality, which includes general support for suspending debt in order for low-income countries to address the effects of COVID-19 and to achieve economic stability.The statement also signaled support for the delegation's push for access to emergency funds, noting that they are part of the "broader package of assistance to low-income countries."

 

 

Read the full article here.

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The Presbyterian Outlook Covers Jubilee USA's Meeting with Secretary Yellen and Religious Leaders

The Presbyterian Outlook covers Jubilee USA Network's historic meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on international debt and COVID response. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Nelson joins faith leaders in virtual roundtable discussion with US Treasury secretary

The virtual roundtable discussion was moderated by Jubilee USA Network, a nonprofit financial reform organization based in Washington, D.C., that advocates for debt relief for developing countries. Tuesday’s conversation centered on the global coronavirus response and anti-poverty efforts.

During Tuesday’s call, invited guests were given an opportunity to address Yellen and her senior staff. In his statement, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) said the yearlong pandemic has deeply hurt the most vulnerable and deepened inequality in the U.S. and abroad. Jubilee officials estimate that developing countries lose $1 trillion a year due to illegal practices such as corruption and tax evasion. The group also says that “shell corporations” hide the identities of their owners for tax evasion purposes as well as participate in human trafficking and the exploitation of poor communities.

“Global inequality is a large and growing problem. Low-income countries are facing poverty and an increased debt burden. Many governments lack the resources to pay for vaccines and support those hit by this economic crisis,” said Yellen. “We are committed to addressing global inequality and work with our partners to tackle this crisis.” Yellen says the current administration has already started to provide support for low-income countries through such initiatives as debt service suspension and a multilateral framework for debt treatment.

 

 

Read the full article here.

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United Church of Christ Features Jubilee USA's High Level Meeting with Secretary Yellen and Faith Leaders

The United Church of Christ features Jubilee USA Network's historic meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on international debt and COVID response. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

UCC president, other faith leaders meet with Treasury Secretary Yellen on global pandemic response

by Connie Larkman

The meeting, organized by Jubilee USA, a nonprofit group that advocates for debt relief for developing countries, brought together leaders from the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran and UCC traditions, as well as the Union for Reform Judaism, Puerto Rico’s Catholic Church and the Puerto Rico Evangelical Bible Society. The Rev. John Dorhauer represented the UCC, with the Revs. Sekinah Hamlin and Michael Neuroth joining the discussion as observers.

Concerned about developing countries being left out of crisis response, the group conversation focused on ways to increase resources to help those nations contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Permanent debt restructuring and climate decisions were also discussed.

What’s unique about the historic meeting, said Jubilee Executive Director Eric LeCompte, is “the major religious institutions are coming together to solve the current pandemic crisis and prevent future crises.” The World Bank estimates the pandemic will push as many as 150 million people into extreme poverty. LeCompte said the meeting reflected Yellen’s focus on the global nature of the pandemic, and her willingness to engage with a range of U.S. leaders find solutions. 

 

 

Read the full article here.

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Devex Features Jubilee USA Network's High-Level Meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen

Devex features Jubilee USA Network's historic meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the global economic response to the pandemic and international debt. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

US Treasury secretary meets with faith leaders about debt, COVID-19

By Adva Saldinger

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with U.S. faith leaders Tuesday to discuss the global economic response to the pandemic, debt relief, and financing efforts to address climate change.

It was a “historic meeting,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director at Jubilee USA, who spoke at and helped organize the meeting. “I don’t know of a time a treasury secretary sat down with some of the highest religious leaders in the U.S.”

Yellen “made clear the Biden Administration’s commitment to reducing global poverty,” and said low-income countries will need continued support to respond to the pandemic, according to a readout of the meeting from the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department is committed to working with international partners to address the crisis, including the implementation of existing debt relief efforts including the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and Common Framework for debt treatments, according to the readout.

 

 

Read the full article here.

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Reuters Quotes Eric LeCompte on Meeting with Secretary Yellen and Faith Leaders

Reuters quotes Eric LeCompte on Jubilee USA's meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen along with many religious faith leaders. Read an except below, and click here for the full story.

Yellen vows to use 'full power' of U.S. government to tackle climate change

By Andrea Shalal

Yellen also said she saw a potential new allocation of the International Monetary Fund’s emergency reserves, or Special Drawing Rights, as part of a broader package of assistance to low-income countries, but gave no details.

Yellen’s support, first announced last month, reversed the opposition of the Trump administration, paving the way for a likely SDR allocation this year. U.S. support is critical because it is the IMF’s largest shareholder.

Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, said the discussion made clear that climate policies were a growing focus of the G7 and G20 major economies.

“Treasury is looking at climate issues in very deep ways,” he said.

 

 

Read the full article here.

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Bloomberg Covers Jubilee USA Network's High-Level Meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen

Bloomberg covers Jubilee USA Network's historic meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on international debt and COVID response. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Yellen Tells Faith Leaders Poor Nations Need Help on Covid-19

By Eric Martin

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a group of religious leaders on Tuesday that low-income nations needed continued international support to deal with Covid-19.

Yellen told the leaders that she views the possible creation of new International Monetary Fund reserve assets called special drawing rights, or SDRs, as part of wider aid for poor countries, the Treasury Department said in a statement. That includes IMF financing, multilateral development bank grants and loans, debt rescheduling and relief through the Group of 20’s common framework, the Treasury said.

 

 

Read the full article here.

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Treasury Secretary Yellen and Religious Leaders Hold Historic Meeting on Global COVID Response

Debt Relief, Transparency, Climate, Aid, Puerto Rico, SDR Reserves and Bankruptcy Discussed

Washington DC – Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Jubilee USA Network and some of the highest-ranking religious leaders met on global COVID response on Tuesday. The high-level roundtable discussion focused on emergency SDR reserve funds, debt policies, aid, climate change, Puerto Rico relief and bankruptcy, transparency and tax proposals to prevent future crises.

"The meeting with Secretary Yellen and leaders from the largest faith traditions was historic," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who organized the meeting. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, religious institutions have called for responses to the COVID crisis that protect the vulnerable and address inequality." 

Leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches, the Union for Reform Judaism, Puerto Rico's Catholic Church and the Puerto Rico Evangelical General Bible Society attended the meeting. Jubilee USA Network was also joined by the AFL-CIO and International Trade Union Confederation.

"The religious community is concerned that many developing countries are left out of crisis response," noted LeCompte a United Nations finance expert. "The discussion with Yellen was critical on climate change because many of the most significant climate decisions will be made by Treasury, the IMF and G20."

Climate policies are a growing focus of the G7 and G20. In a recent letter to the G20, Yellen called for cooperation to address climate and support low-income countries to meet climate goals.

"President Biden’s climate executive order instructs Treasury to promote policies that protect the environment and address climate change,” stated LeCompte.

Organized by Jubilee USA, 220 religious, labor and human rights groups signed a letter to Biden calling for aid, debt relief and new development processes to confront the pandemic. In February, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network sent a letter to Biden urging short-term solutions to confront the current crisis and long-term solutions to prevent future crises.

Read Treasury Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable agenda here

Read Treasury's readout and release on the roundtable here.

Read the letter to President Biden and Secretary Yellen from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network here

Read the letter from Treasury Secretary Yellen to G20 Finance Ministers here

Read Jubilee USA's COVID-19 Jubilee White House, IMF, G20 letter signed by 220 groups here.

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Jubilee USA Network Roundtable Agenda

Tuesday, March 16th, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET

(Roundtable closed to public)

I. Jubilee USA Network's Eric LeCompte Moderates, Welcomes and Thanks Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

II. Opening Prayer and Statement: Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism and Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

III. Jubilee USA Agenda Presentations 

A.) Special Drawing Rights - Most Reverend Bishop David Malloy, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace

B.) Common Framework, Private Sector and Middle-Income Countries - Cathy Feingold, International Director of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Vice President of the International Trade Union Confederation

C.) Climate Change, Climate Finance and Decisions from G7/G20 and IMF - Most Reverend Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

D.) Puerto Rico Debt and Treasury Analysis - Most Reverend Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico and Reverend Heriberto Martinez, General Secretary of Puerto Rico's Evangelical Bible Society

E.) Increased Concessional Lending and Boosting Development Bank Support - Reverend John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ

F.) Preventing the Next Crisis, Promoting Transparency, Improved Permanent Debt Restructuring Processes and International Financial Architecture - The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network

G.) Working with Treasury and Administration on Jubilee Coronavirus Response - The Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church

IV.) Secretary Janet Yellen Address

V.) Interactive Roundtable Discussion

VI.) Closing Prayer - Most Reverend Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America

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Reuters, New York Times, Fox Feature Jubilee USA’s High-Level Meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

Reuters, the Times, Fox, and other outlets quote Eric LeCompte on Jubilee USA's high-level meeting with Secretary Yellen. Jubilee USA are joined by major religious and labor leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church USA, Union for Reform Judaism, Puerto Rico Catholic Church, Puerto Rico Bible Society, and the American Federation of Labor. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Yellen to meet religious leaders, NGO group pushing for debt relief

By Andrea Shalal

The online meeting will focus on ways to increase resources to help poor and middle income countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent debt restructuring and climate change, said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network.

LeCompte said it was common for religious leaders to meet once with a U.S. president during a term, but a meeting with a Treasury secretary was unusual.

“What’s unique is that the major religious institutions are coming together to solve the current pandemic crisis and prevent future crises,” he said. The World Bank estimates the pandemic will push as many as 150 million people into extreme poverty.

He said the meeting reflected Yellen’s focus on the global nature of the pandemic, and her willingness to engage with a range of U.S. leaders to hammer out solutions.

 

 

Read the full article here.

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Stimulus Package Aids Puerto Rico

Washington DC – Congress passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes Puerto Rico anti-poverty measures and $900 million of increased food aid through the Nutrition Assistance Program. The US territory suffers from a nearly 60% child poverty rate and the coronavirus rescue package funds Puerto Rico's child tax credit benefiting 355,000 low-income families.

“Devastated by the pandemic, debt crisis, high child poverty rates and natural disasters, Puerto Rico needs the stimulus package aid,” said Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of religious development group Jubilee USA Network.

The legislation expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for poor working families on the island. 

Last month, 20 US and Puerto Rico religious leaders sent a letter to Congress and President Biden urging that stimulus packages include job creation, disaster relief, food assistance and the anti-poverty tax measures for the territory.

“Beyond the stimulus aid, Puerto Rico needs more disaster relief,” stated LeCompte. "The Department of Justice can unblock more than $2 billion in disability aid for the island."

Under the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed to the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling that approved $2.3 billion in annual Supplemental Security Income disability payments for 300,000 people in Puerto Rico. The religious leader letter requested that the Biden Administration instruct the DOJ to withdraw the case to allow the disability aid to reach the island.

Read the Puerto Rico letter to President Biden and the 20 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders signers in English and Spanish here

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Pope Visits Iraq Amidst COVID Crisis, Conflict, Soaring Poverty and Struggling Economy

Shia Muslim Leader and Pope to Meet

Washington DC - Pope Francis kicks off a 3-day Iraq tour and meetings with Muslim leaders, government officials and representatives of the country's dwindling Christian population. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Iraq saw poverty numbers climb to 37% and an estimated 11% contraction in its economy.

"Iraq was already struggling before the pandemic hit and now the suffering is even worse," stated the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network, Eric LeCompte. LeCompte advises the Vatican and Catholic leaders on economic issues. "The coronavirus crisis for Iraq means poverty has doubled and the country can't make debt payments and also pay workers."

In February the International Monetary Fund reported the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant decline in the country's main revenue source, oil. Coupled with challenges of corruption, the Fund estimated the downturn of Iraq's 2020 economy by 11%.

"The Pope's visit brings hope as Iraq's people suffer from the pandemic, conflict, corruption, soaring food prices and increasing poverty," shared LeCompte. "Like too many countries, it will take Iraq's economy years to rebound to pre-pandemic levels. Iraq's pre-pandemic economy wasn't great and already had too much suffering."

The IMF forecasts that Iraq's debt will steadily rise through 2023 and could see pre-pandemic economic outputs in 2024.

On Saturday, Pope Francis travels to Iraq's holiest city, Najaf, to meet with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani who leads Iraq's Shia Muslims.

"The meeting between Ayatollah Sistani and Pope Francis signifies the Pope's commitment to tackle world problems with people of all faiths," stated LeCompte whose organization is composed of multiple faith groups including Muslims, Jews and Christians. "The Pope took the name Francis after the famed St. Francis who met with the Muslim Sultan Malek al-Kamil in 1219. The meeting between St. Francis and Sultan al-Kamil is a symbol for Pope Francis of the critical importance of interfaith dialogue."

Iraq is the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, an important figure for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Read the IMF's recent report on Iraq here.
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