Development Group Head Issues Statement on G-20 Communiqué

Washington DC - The G-20 releases their communiqué or "Leader's Declaration" at the close of their annual meetings held this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization, releases the following statement on the G-20 Leader's Declaration:

"From a development perspective we agree with the G-20 that the current system of global trade is flawed. Trade dispute processes too often bypass a country's sovereign laws on labor and the environment. Reforms of the World Trade Organization and trade agreements are needed to protect vulnerable communities.

"We welcome the commitment for basic creditor transparency and for the IMF and World Bank to record public and private loans and debts.

"The G-20's commitment to tackle tax avoidance, tax evasion and corruption are important. We want to see the implementation of global tax and transparency laws as soon as possible. Currently the developing world loses nearly a trillion dollars annually due to tax evasion and corruption.

"The G-20 affirmation of the need to make voting more equal at the International Monetary Fund is critical.

"While the G-20 raises concerns about financial crisis, the G-20 as a whole is failing to push forward an international bankruptcy process. Without this process in place, we are failing to do all we can to prevent the next global financial crisis."

Read the full G-20 Leader's Declaration here: http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2018/buenos_aires_leaders_declaration.pdf

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G20 Discusses Preventing Financial Crisis and Small Island Economies

Washington DC - President Trump arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday for the annual G20 meetings. While trade, climate and tensions with Russia dominated press coverage ahead of the meetings, financial crisis concerns are taking center stage during the two-day meetings. The International Monetary Fund released a series of reports in October warning new financial crisis could be on the horizon.

"The concerns are whether or not we've done enough to prevent the next financial crisis," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who monitors the G20 and serves on UN finance expert groups. "There is broad agreement that the debts of many countries are out of control and we've not done enough to stop risky market behavior."

Recent analysis from the IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development suggest that a growing number of developing countries are wrestling with debt crisis. Almost 20 African economies are mired in unsustainable debts, according to the World Bank and IMF. On Monday, the IMF hosted Caribbean Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers to discuss debt concerns after the devastating 2017 hurricane season.

"During this year's G20, world leaders are discussing how small islands in particular are struggling with high debt loads in the face of natural disasters," said LeCompte who participated in Monday's IMF Caribbean meeting. "We are pushing the G20 to support debt relief when poor small islands are hit by hurricanes or other natural disasters."

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What your gift does, exactly. Why your gift is doubled.

On "Giving Tuesday," please join me and make a gift that supports our current campaigns.

Any gift to Jubilee USA is tax-deductible and is doubled now. Whether your gift is $5, $50 or $500 it will be doubled and will support our campaigns that will see action before year-end. 

Your donation supports effective and strategic campaigns that address the root causes of poverty.

Your gift right now means:

  • We will win debt and austerity relief for Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands wrestling with financial crisis. Our disaster-triggered debt relief processes will also gain momentum with your support
  • In the new NAFTA, we will gain more ground on stopping vulture funds, settling trade disputes in favor of vulnerable communities and ensuring people can access life-saving medicines
  • We will win more hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • We will prevent corruption from oil and extractive industries by implementing new reporting rules that will stop bribery, protect debt relief and curb tax evasion in the developing world
  • At the G20 and the IMF, we can move forward the implementation of new global responsible lending and borrowing rules
  • We'll continue to protect transparency rules in Dodd-Frank and protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from attacks
  • We can raise the alarm and push solutions on the growing debt crises in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America

Your support achieves success. Your contribution wins measurable results.

Please make your tax-deductible gift today. We are a small organization and your gift is critically needed now for us to be able to continue our work. 

Congressional Quarterly cites our Jubilee USA efforts as the last bipartisan efforts in Washington DC. Before the end of the year, we'll need you to join us as we take action. Several of the campaigns we are working on will see decisions in the coming weeks.

So grateful for your partnership,


Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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Debt and Tax Policies Needed to Prevent Crisis Says Finance Watchdog Group

Washington DC - Financial institutions, experts and economists fear a new wave of financial crises hitting countries from Ghana to Italy. The IMF and World Bank warn that nearly 20 African economies are wrestling with debt crises and on Wednesday the European Union chastised Italy on its debt-laden budget.

"Growing debt crises and the inability of countries to meet the social needs of their people is very concerning," stated Eric LeCompte who serves on United Nation finance expert groups and is the Executive Director of Jubilee USA. Jubilee USA monitors the debts and budgets of governments across the world. "Governments aren't raising enough revenue, we are failing to prevent corruption and the exports and currencies of many countries are losing value."

In October the IMF released a series of reports raising concerns that policies are not in place to prevent future global financial crisis. Last year's hurricane season devastated Caribbean islands from Puerto Rico to Dominica that were not prepared because of debt crises.

"If we follow the data, the solutions are conclusive," said LeCompte. "We need stronger policies on responsible lending and borrowing. We need a functioning permanent bankruptcy process for countries to work out their debts. We must implement some basic rules that can curb the trillion dollar annual loss to developing countries from tax evasion and corruption."

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We stand with Rumi. We are Thankful.

 

Giving thanks for abundance 

is sweeter than the abundance itself: 
Should one who is absorbed with the 
Generous One 
be distracted by the gift? 
Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence; 
abundance is but the husk, 
for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives. 

- Rumi

Friends,

If there ever was a holiday that could be called a holiday of Jubilee, it is Thanksgiving. 

Hoarding abundance, excess in itself is never the celebration of Jubilee. Like the great Muslim Sufi prophet, Rumi, proclaims, that is the husk.

In the midst of darkness, in chaos, in tumult - the gift of Thanksgiving is two-fold. 

The gift is knowing gratitude. The gift is acknowledging the reality that our loving God has given us a rich and abundant world and we are closest to the Creator when we share that abundance among all of us.

On Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for you.

Wishing you every blessing,



Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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

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Eric LeCompte Speaks to National Catholic Reporter on The Effects of Hurricanes on Small Islands

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, recently spoke with the National Catholic Reporter about the financial effects of hurricanes on islands in the Caribbean. Read an excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.

Post-disaster tourism, volunteering boost local island economies

The impact extended to a number of islands throughout the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, Barbuda and St. Martin. All were "greatly affected," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an interfaith alliance of non-profit organizations seeking to address structural and financial causes of poverty and inequality. The financial toll was even worse for islands whose economies are largely reliant on tourism.

"It's a double whammy when natural disasters strike in these areas because not only is an island or a country struggling to recover, they're also wrestling with losing their main form of income," LeCompte said.

Making matters worse is that a number of islands hit by hurricanes were countries and territories already facing financial and debt crises, LeCompte said. That left many ill-prepared to fortify infrastructure for a major storm, much less deal with the aftermath.

 "These islands were already in a very tough spot before the hurricanes came. And now all of those problems have been compounded," he said.

While most of the major debris brought by the hurricanes has been cleared and power was fully restored as of July, power outages continue in some parts, LeCompte said, and electrical access is more intermittent the farther you travel into the island's more rural regions. Those areas also face clean water issues and have older buildings and structures still dotted with the government-provided blue tarps.

While images of a recovering region can leave some skittish of traveling there, LeCompte said it's important to remember that the storms, earthquakes or other destructive events often don't usher in impoverished conditions, but rather exacerbate inequality that existed beforehand. Given that, he suggested travelers shouldn't hesitate to travel to these destinations, "and even choose these areas, because they are so in need of income."

In spite of challenging circumstances, whether brought by extreme weather or economic inequality, the Jubilee USA official said people he and others have met in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean continually invite them to come back and visit again — and to bring their families. To help overcome any feelings of guilt, he encourages tourists to experience the local culture outside of beach resorts, to better learn about local life, challenges and all.

"People are very hospitable and want to be able to teach and show people what's special about the place that they live," he said.

Read more here

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COMUNICADO DEL ARZOBISPO DE SAN JUAN DE PUERTO RICO Y EL SECRETARIO GENERAL DE LA SOCIEDAD BÍBLICA DE PUERTO RICO SOBRE EL PLAN DE DEUDAS Y LAS NEGOCIACIONES

Juzgará con justicia a los débiles,y sentenciará con
rectitud a los pobres de la tierra. Herirá al hombre
cruel con la vara de su boca, con el soplo de sus
labios matará al malvado..." Isaías, 11: 4

Desde el año 2015, hemos abogado para que la deuda de Puerto Rico sea reestructurada de modo tal que, incida en la disminución de medidas de austeridad, reduzca los niveles de pobreza entre los niños y las niñas de la isla y a su vez cree un crecimiento económico sustentable. En conjunto, con congregaciones religiosas hermanas de EE.UU., Puerto Rico y Jubilee USA, hemos reiteradamente hecho este llamado a nuestro gobierno, la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal de Puerto Rico y el gobierno de EE.UU.

Antes de los huracanes Irma y María, los planes fiscales proponían recortes en los pagos por concepto de la deuda, mayores a un 80% del monto adeudado.  

Estamos sumamente sorprendidos, por los acuerdos negociados entre la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal y algunos tenedores de bonos, que representan recortes menores a los anteriores. Antes de los huracanes, luchábamos con el hecho de que cerca de un 60% de nuestros niños y niñas vivían bajo niveles de pobreza. Luego de los huracanes, aún permanece una gran angustia a través de todo Puerto Rico. No obstante, vemos como ahora se llegan a acuerdos que son más onerososa los que originalmente se habían propuesto, antes de los huracanes.

Nosotros estamos firmemente opuestos al acuerdo negociado de la deuda de COFINA. Estamos preocupados por las acciones de nuestro gobierno, los tenedores de bonos y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal. Nuestra gente, especialmente nuestros niños y niñas, quienes heredarán esta deuda de cara al futuro, merecen mejores acuerdos.

No menos importante, el acuerdo actual de COFINA, está fundado sobre proyecciones a corto plazo sumamente optimistas y sobre estimadas. Si se llegan a acuerdos similares con otros grupos de tenedores, bonos como los de las Obligaciones Generales, nuestros asesores de Jubilee USA nos indican que, nos veremos obligados a reestructurar, nuevamente, la deuda de Puerto Rico al cabo de pocos años.

 Las negociaciones actuales con los tenedores de bonos han fallado, al no tomar en consideración la pobreza infantil, reducir las medidas de austeridad y garantizar un crecimiento económico sustentable.   

El recién aprobado plan fiscal proyecta sobrantes en el presupuesto estimado. Para nosotros es moralmente inaceptable que, nuestro gobierno y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal, mientras trabajan en un plan de ajuste fiscal, utilicen los sobrantes del presupuesto, para pagar la deuda de Puerto Rico. El plan de ajuste debe utilizar los sobrantes para la recuperación del huracán, reducir la tasa de pobreza infantil, limitar las medidas de austeridad y estimular el crecimiento económico del país a largo plazo.

 Si el gobierno de Puerto Rico y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal no pueden llegar a un acuerdo sobre la deuda, que contenga recortes significativos en el monto adeudado, de modo que ubique a Puerto Rico en una ruta de crecimiento económico sustentable; les pedimos el favor de echarse a un lado y le abran paso al proceso de quiebras aprobado por el Congreso en el año 2016, para eliminar la carga inmoral que ejerce esta deuda sobre nuestro pueblo, en particular sobre el futuro de nuestros niños y niñas.

 

Mons. Roberto O. González Nieves OFM
Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico

Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera
General Secretary
The Bible Society of Puerto Rico
Coordinator
Ecumenical and Interfaith Coalition of Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Criticize Debt Plans and Negotiations

Washington DC - Puerto Rico's Catholic Archbishop and an Evangelical leader who heads the island's bible society criticized a debt agreement and ongoing debt negotiations. "We are strongly opposed to the COFINA debt deal," wrote the religious leaders in a statement referencing a recently approved plan on a type of debt backed by sales taxes. The plan was approved by Puerto Rico's government and oversight board and covers about $17 billion of the total $72 billion debt of the US Territory. A year ago, Puerto Rico was decimated by two hurricanes.      

"Before the hurricanes, we wrestled with the fact that nearly 60% of our children lived in poverty. After the hurricanes great suffering persists across Puerto Rico. Yet, now we see debt deals that are worse than what was proposed before the hurricanes," wrote Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez and Puerto Rico Bible Society General Secretary, Reverend Heriberto Martinez. "If the government of Puerto Rico and the oversight board cannot reach debt deals with a high enough debt cut to put Puerto Rico on a sustainable path for growth, they should immediately step aside and allow the bankruptcy process approved by Congress in 2016 to arbitrate this immoral debt burden that weighs upon our people, especially on our children."

The leaders also took aim at negotiations around the General Obligation debt and expressed concern if a similar deal was reached, Puerto Rico would be restructuring their "debt in a few years time." The leaders also raised concerns about a fiscal plan approved by the oversight board.

"The current fiscal plan and ongoing debt negotiations are not doing enough to address child poverty, limit austerity and promote sustainable economic growth," stated Eric LeCompte who advises the religious leaders and is the director of the religious development group Jubilee USA.

Read the full Puerto Rico religious leader statement in English 

Read the full Puerto Rico religious leader statement in español 

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Puerto Rico Religious Leader Statement on Debt Plan and Negotiations

"but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; 
and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, 
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked."
 
- Isaiah 11:3-4

Since 2015, we have called for Puerto Rico's debt to be restructured in ways that diminish austerity, reduces our island's high child poverty levels and creates sustainable economic growth. With our religious partners from the US, Puerto Rico and Jubilee USA, we repeated this call to our government, Puerto Rico's oversight board and the government of the United States. 

Before Hurricanes Irma and Maria, fiscal plans proposed debt payment cuts of more than 80%. 

We are surprised, extraordinarily, by agreements negotiated between the oversight board and some bondholders that cut the debt at much lower levels. Before the hurricanes, we wrestled with the fact that nearly 60% of our children lived in poverty. After the hurricanes great suffering persists across Puerto Rico. Yet, now we see debt deals that are worse than what was proposed before the hurricanes.

We are deeply opposed to the COFINA debt deal. We are concerned by the actions of our government, the debt holders and Puerto Rico's oversight board. Our people, especially our children who will shoulder this debt into the future, deserve better deals.

Ultimately, the current COFINA debt deal is based on rosy, overly optimistic, short-term economic projections. If a similar deal is reached with other debt groups like the General Obligation bond holders, we will be seeking to restructure Puerto Rico's debt in just a few years time.

Current debt negotiations fail to take into account addressing child poverty, reducing austerity and ensuring robust economic growth.

The most recently approved fiscal plan projects a budget surplus. As the oversight board and our government works towards a plan of adjustment, we believe it is morally unacceptable to use that projected budget surplus to pay Puerto Rico's debt. The plan of adjustment must use that surplus for hurricane recovery, child poverty reduction, limiting austerity and supporting long-term economic growth.

If the government of Puerto Rico and the oversight board cannot reach debt deals with a high enough debt cut to put Puerto Rico on a sustainable path for growth, they should immediately step aside and allow the bankruptcy process approved by Congress in 2016 to arbitrate this immoral debt burden that weighs upon our people, especially on our children.

Mons. Roberto O. González Nieves OFM
Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico

Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera
General Secretary
The Bible Society of Puerto Rico
Coordinator
Ecumenical and Interfaith Coalition of Puerto Rico
 

 

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President Trump: Hurricane Relief Should Not Pay Puerto Rico Debt

Washington DC - According to a report from Axios, President Trump told advisers that additional hurricane relief monies should not be sent to Puerto Rico as the monies could be used to pay the island's debt.

"We are concerned that hurricane relief monies are providing a budget surplus that can pay Puerto Rico's debt," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious debt relief group, Jubilee USA. "A great concern is that the oversight board of Puerto Rico approved a recent fiscal plan with projected budget surpluses based on current and expected hurricane relief monies. Without Congress action, this budget surplus could be used to pay debt."

Since early 2018 Congress and federal relief agencies passed nearly $40 billion in hurricane relief and health-care funding for Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's government and oversight board estimate this is about a third of the total needed for aid and rebuilding efforts.

"The reality is that Puerto Rico needs more relief aid, but that aid shouldn't create a budget surplus that can be used to pay the debt," said LeCompte, who serves as an expert to United Nation agencies on debt policies. "There is a simple fix. Congress needs to act and fence off current and future hurricane relief monies for the sole purpose of recovery and not allow a penny to be used for debt payments."

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