IMF Head: Ukraine War, Pandemic Worse, Debt, Food Security

IMF Head Raises Global Challenges Ahead of World Leader Meetings in "Curtain Raiser" Speech

Washington, DC – The war in Ukraine will add to the pandemic crises that most countries are struggling with and lengthen the recovery in developing countries, said International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva. In her curtain-raiser speech, ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank meetings, she shared that the IMF projects more than 140 countries face worse prospects in the coming months.

“As incomes drop and the cost of living rises, poverty increases,” stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who has monitored IMF policies for more than a decade. “With the challenges of the pandemic, poverty increases and it will be harder to lift people out of poverty.”

Georgieva called for improvements to the G20 Common Framework – a debt restructuring process the group set up a year and a half ago. Up to 73 countries are eligible to seek relief but only three requested relief so far. Ethiopia, Zambia and Chad, who applied for the framework, have not yet received any debt reduction from the G20 process. More than 60% of developing low-income countries face debt crisis.

“If the tools for debt crisis resolution are not functioning, developing countries will delay requesting help from processes," noted LeCompte who is a United Nations finance expert.

In a separate statement today Georgieva shared calculations that for every percentage point that food prices go up, 10 million more people fall in poverty.

“The challenge of food insecurity and the potential for social unrest is a frightening part of the current IMF diagnosis.” added LeCompte.

View Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva's Spring IMF Meetings Curtain Raiser Speech here.

Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
[email protected] / (202) 430-6975

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IMF Sets Up New Pandemic and Climate Aid Instrument

Tool Accepts Donations of Special Drawing Rights Aid

Washington DC – The IMF Board of Directors established a new fund to aid developing countries with long-term pandemic and climate challenges. The Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST) offers low-cost loans to developing countries with emergency currency or Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) that wealthy countries will contribute.

“The new trust provides an important way for wealthy countries to support developing countries struggling with the impacts of crises spurred by the pandemic and climate change,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert. “With the growing challenges that developing countries face and new global shocks from the war in Ukraine, we need more tools like this trust.

In August the IMF created $650 billion SDRs. Due to IMF rules, about $230 billion went to developing countries and more than $400 billion went to developed countries. The RST is a process that enables wealthy countries use their SDRs to aid developing countries. Countries can also pledge SDR funding to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, a fund that lends at a zero interest rate but supports only the poorest countries.

“The decision to allow developing middle-income countries to access the new trust recognizes the significant difficulties these countries face,” added LeCompte.

The Fund seeks to mobilize $45 billion for the RST in the coming months. The G20 continue discussions on how to channel SDRs through development banks.

“The new trust is a start, but we will need additional ways to donate Special Drawing Rights to developing countries that struggle to meet development goals and deal with health crises," stated LeCompte.

Read IMF Managing Director's full statement on the creation of the RST here.

Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
[email protected] / (202) 430-6975

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Yellen: IMF Needs Overhaul to Fight New Global Crises

Washington DC  The IMF needs more tools to fight modern, potentially more frequent global crises, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued in a speech to the Atlantic Council.

“Health, climate and development challenges are creating worse economic shocks and leading to crises that are harder to solve," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “In the face of crisis, countries with more resources can act forcefully while poor countries get left behind."

Yellen’s speech comes days before she joins world leaders for G20 and World Bank/IMF meetings focused on developing countries struggling with debt, vaccine access and climate change. The Ukraine war brings a new shock to the global economy that leaders will discuss. Recently, IMF staff warned that 60% of poor countries are facing debt crisis or economic instability.

“The Ukraine war adds to the dramatic debt challenges in countries that already struggled with the pandemic,” added LeCompte. “It's clear that we need stronger and more efficient tools to solve economic crises.”

Yellen addressed international tax, trade, climate finance, health and pandemic preparedness reforms to modernize global financial institutions so they are fit to face global 21st century challenges.

Read Yellen's full speech here.

Read Eric LeCompte commentary in Barron's on Ukraine's debt and the lack of global financial crisis tools here.

Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
[email protected] / (202) 430-6975

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Devex Quotes Eric LeCompte on Development Finance

Devex Quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Development Finance. Read the full article here

Devex Invested: Can development finance fix global inequality?

By Adva Saldinger

An expected outcome document from the 2022 forum is likely to reiterate many of the positions agreed in previous years, particularly around tax, trade, and anti-corruption efforts, along with economic and aid issues, according to Eric LeCompte, the executive director at Jubilee USA Network.

But a draft of the document has a few notable additions, he tells me. The final version is likely to recommend an international summit on development financing in 2024. And the draft has stronger language on debt — saying, for example, that the G-20’s Common Framework for debt treatments should move quickly, with a clear process that includes a debt standstill during negotiations. It also calls for a more comprehensive debt solution and for small island developing states to gain access to concessional finance, particularly through IMF.

Another key issue in the document relates to changing how assessments are made by credit rating agencies, which play a significant role in sovereign funding and addressing mounting indebtedness. Hanif says what’s needed is longer-term thinking in credit ratings, which could help decrease borrowing costs for lower-income countries. And ratings agencies now seem willing to engage, he says.

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Bretton Woods Project Quotes Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's Debt

The Bretton Woods Project quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Ukraine's debt. Read the full article here

Calls for Ukraine debt relief grow as IMF and World Bank provide fresh loans amidst crisis

Ukraine’s external debt stood at $56.7 billion at the end of 2020, according to the IMF. Jubilee USA executive director Eric LeCompte noted in a 8 March article in Barron’s magazine that Ukraine owed $22 billion to international finance institutions (IFIs), stating: “The IMF holds more than a half of that…debt at $13.4 billion with $2 billion in debt payments owed this year…. Since Ukraine will most likely default on these payments, the IMF should act quickly to restructure the payments.”

The Fund’s executive board subsequently approved a $1.4 billion loan to Ukraine on 9 March via its Rapid Financing Instrument, while the World Bank also released a $723 million financing package on 7 March, including $589 million in new loans. While this financing provides much needed emergency support, it increases Ukraine’s substantial debt load further.

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CSOs launch call for the fair channeling of Special Drawing Rights

Open Letter to G20 Finance Ministers, Central Bank Governors and the IMF: Civil Society Organizations Call for Principles for Fair Channeling of Special Drawing Rights

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اقرأ الرسالة باللغة العربية Arabic

As the pandemic exacerbates multiple crises in developing countries, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) are a crucial option to help finance the COVID response and hasten an equitable and inclusive economic recovery. With the SDR distribution being proportional to IMF countries’ quotas, the new allocation of US$650 billion does not ensure sufficient SDRs go to developing countries. This is why many have been calling for an allocation in the order of US$3 trillion. Moreover, advanced economies are in less need of SDRs given their access to a wider array of monetary and financial tools for the response and recovery. Thus, it is essential that the recent allocation be quickly followed by rechanneling a significant portion of advanced economies’ SDRs to developing countries.

We strongly believe that successful and equitable recovery is contingent on transparency and a participatory process inclusive of civil society in all countries. This also applies to international spaces making decisions on SDR channeling mechanisms, including the G20 and the IMF, where civil society has not had, so far, sufficient opportunities to engage on this matter.

We urge you to ensure SDR channeling options align with a basic framework of principles that many academics, experts and civil society colleagues around the world echoed over recent months.

THE CHANNELING OPTIONS SHOULD:

  1. Provide debt-free financing, so it does not add to unsustainable debt burdens of developing countries, whose annual external public debt payments are projected to average US$300 billion over 2021 and 2022. Grant-based financing is ideal but, if additional loans are to be offered, then maximum concessionality is critical (zero interest and lengthy repayment terms with extended grace periods).
  2. Refrain from tying transfers to policy conditionality (directly or indirectly). Conditionality will lengthen the time it takes to negotiate such financing, could force countries into adopting difficult adjustment or austerity measures; or put the financing beyond reach for countries unable to comply with such conditions.
  3. Be accessible to middle-income countries. These countries have persistently been left out of debt relief initiatives and concessional financing, and should not be excluded from yet another financial assistance option when many of them face deep debt distress and challenging pandemic vulnerabilities.
  4. Include transparency and accountability safeguards on both providers and recipients of such financing in the spirit of democratic ownership, strengthening independent scrutiny, participation and accountability to citizens.
  5. Ensure that SDR contributions are additional to existing ODA and climate finance commitments. Only SDRs channelled to developing countries as grants should count as ODA, or, where appropriate, against the climate finance goal of US$100 billion.
  6. Prioritize SDR use that expands international grant funding for combatting the pandemic through budget support for public services and the public sector workforce in health and education, for social protection and other needs. Grants can also target promotion of a fair recovery that supports climate justice, and tackles economic and gender inequality, including the unpaid care burden that women bear, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated.

We also call for agreement on a global repository to report on channeled SDRs. This will help limit fragmentation and be an important measure for accountability of commitments and tracking the overall impact of SDRs, including for ongoing learning.

We are aware that the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT) is being considered as a favoured option for SDRs channeling; however, it is important to note that the PRGT does not reflect the principles of being debt-free, conditionality-free, and accessible to all developing countries. We urge you to consider ways to improve the PRGT option, including channeling via its emergency financing vehicle (Rapid Credit Facility).

We also encourage you to identify SDR channeling mechanisms that support debt cancellation, including through the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, and to consider alternative options which align best with the principles stated above.

To create options to scale up SDR channeling volumes and reach more developing countries we encourage you to seriously discuss alternative options beyond the PRGT and beyond the IMF more broadly. However, other rechanneling vehicles under discussion, such as a Resilience and Sustainability Trust and Multilateral Development Banks, still appear far from embodying these principles.

Finally, neither the initial SDR allocation nor the channeling of SDRs can be a substitute for the urgent implementation of debt relief measures that benefit both low- and middle- income countries, especially to ensure that the additional resources are not directed to repay external private and other creditors.

Click here to add your signature.

SIGNATORIES

REGIONAL / GLOBAL ORGANISATIONS

1. Access to Human Rights International AHRI
2. Action Aid International
3. ACTIONS PLURIELLES
4. Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)
5. Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice(ANEEJ)
6. African Forum and Network on Debt and Development AFRODAD
7. African Women’s Development and Communication Network(FEMNET)
8. AidWatch Canada
9. Alliance for Sustainable Development Organization (ASDO)
10. Arab Watch Coalition
11. Associated Country Women of the World
12. Association Biowa
13. AULA TIDEs UN SDGs Action Education & Programming
14. Blue Ridge Impact Consulting
15. Both ENDS
16. Bretton Woods Project
17. Burundi Rugby League Rugby a XIII Cooperative, Central & East Africa
18. Campaign for Human Rights and Development International CHRDI, Sierra Leone West Africa
19. Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación (CLADE)
20. Candid Concepts Development
21. Caritas Ghana
22. Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)
23. Christian Aid
24. Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All
25. Coalition for Health Workers (HRH PLUS)
26. Confederation of Indonesia People Movement (KPRI)
27. Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Desarrollo
28. DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)
29. Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales DAR
30. Development Alternatives
31. Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality
32. Ekumenická akademie (Ecumenical Academy)
33. Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia
34. Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation
35. European Network on Debt and Development EURODAD
36. Feminist Task Force
37. FENASSEP/ISP, SINERGIE DES TRAVAILLEURS DU TOGO/STT
38. Fight Inequality Alliance
39. Fight Inequality Alliance, Asia
40. Financial Transparency Coalition
41. FOKUS - Forum for Women and Development
42. Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer
43. Fundación para la Democracia Internacional
44. Fundacion SES
45. Gender and Development Network
46. Génération Maastricht
47. Geneva Finance Observatory
48. Global Campaign for Education
49. Global Coalition Against Poverty GCAP
50. Global Policy Forum
51. Global Socio-economic and Financial Evolution Network (GSFEN)
52. Global Youth Online Union
53. Health Action International Asia Pacific
54. Indigenous Peoples Global Forum for Sustainable Development, (International Indegeous Platforme)
55. Institute for Economic Justice
56. Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Loreto Generalate
57. Internacional de Servicios Públicos (ISP)
58. International Council for Adult Education
59. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
60. Jubilee Debt Campaign
61. Jubilee USA Network
62. Ladies of Great Decorum
63. Latin American Network for Economic and Social Rights -LATINDADD
64. Latinoamérica Sustentable
65. Medicus Mundi Mediterrània
66. Medicusmundi spain
67. Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
68. Mumahhid Family of Greater Jerusalem
69. MY World Mexico
70. NGO CSW LAC
71. Okogun Odigie Safewomb International Foundation (OOSAIF)
72. OXFAM
73. Plateforme française Dette et Développement (PFDD)
74. Red de Justicia Fiscal para América Latina y El Caribe RJFALC
75. Regions Refocus
76. RIPESS
77. SAUDI GREEN BUILDING FORUM
78. Save the Children
79. SEATINI
80. SEDRA, Chile
81. Seed Global Health
82. Servicios Ecumenios para Reconciliacion y Reconstuccion
83. Sisters of Charity Federation
84. Social Justice in Global Development
85. Society for International Development SID
86. Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future
87. Stop the Bleeding Campaign
88. Success Capital Organisation
89. The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation
90. Third World Network
91. Tripla Difesa Onlus ODV
92. UDA LLP
93. UGANDA DEBT NETWORK
94. UNISC International
95. Unite for Climate Action
96. United Religions Initiative
97. WaterAid
98. Wemos
99. Womankind
100. Women Coalition for Agenda 2030
101. World Future Council
102. World Public Health Nutrition Association
103. Zamara Foundation


NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS
104. AbibiNsroma Foundation, Ghana
105. Academic and Career Development Initiative, Cameroon
106. Africa Development Interchange Network (ADIN), Cameroon
107. Alliance Sud, Switzerland
108. Al-Tahreer Association for Development, Iraq
109. American TelePhysicians, USA
110. Apostle Padi Ologo Traditional Birth Centre, Ghana
111. Asociación Ciudadana por los Derechos Humanos, Argentina
112. Association for Promotion Sustainable Development, India
113. Association of Rural Education and Development Service, India
114. Baghdad Women Association, Iraq
115. Bahrain Transparency
116. Budget Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone
117. Catholic Agency for Overseas Development CAFOD, UK
118. CCFD-Terre Solidaire
119. CDES, Ecuador
120. CEDECAM, Nicaragua
121. Cedetrabajo, Colombia
122. CEICOM, El Salvador
123. Center for Economic and Policy Research, CEPR
124. Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
125. Civil Society SDGs Campaign GCAP Zambia
126. CLATE/ULATOC/CTA-A, España
127. Club Ohada Thies, Senegal
128. CNCD-11.11.11
129. Comisión Nacional de Enlace
130. Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), Zimbabwe
131. Conservation and Development Agency CODEA-CBO, Uganda
132. Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), Zambia
133. Cooperation for Peace and Development (CPD), Afghanistan
134. Corporación CIASE
135. Debt Justice Norway
136. DECIDAMOS. Campaña por la Expresión ciudadana
137. DSW Kenya
138. Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone
139. EMPOWER INDIA
140. ENVIRONICS TRUST, India
141. erlassjahr.de
142. Fair Trade Hellas, Greece
143. Fomento de la Vida- FOVIDA, Peru
144. Foro Social de Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras - FOSDEH, Honduras
145. Forum Solidaridad Perú
146. Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty, Tanzania
147. Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
148. Friends of the Earth US
149. Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN)
150. Fundación Constituyente XXI, Chile
151. Gatef organizations, Egypt
152. GCAP El Salvador
153. GCAP Italia
154. GCAP Rwanda Coalition
155. German NGO Forum on Environment and Development
156. Gestos (soropositividade, comunicação, gênero), Brazil
157. Global Justice Now
158. Global Learning for Sustainability, Uganda
159. Global Responsibility (AG Globale Verantwortung)
160. GreenTech Foundation, Bangladesh
161. GreenWatch Dhaka, Bangladesh
162. Group of Action, Peace and Training for Transformation - GAPAFOT, Central African Republic
163. GWEN Trust, Zimbabwe
164. Help Age, India
165. Institute for Public Policy Research, Namibia
166. Instituto de Estudos Socioeconomicos, Brazil
167. Instituto Equit - Genero, Economia e Cidadania Global,Brazil
168. Instituto Guatemalteco de Economistas, Guatemala
169. Iraqi center for women rehabilitation & employment, Iraq
170. Iraqi Institute for the Civil Development(IICD), Iraq
171. Jubilee Debt Campaign -UK
172. JUBILEO 2OOO RED ECUADOR
173. K.U.L.U.- Women and Developmennt, Denmark
174. Kathak Academy (KA)
175. Kulmiye Aid Foundation, Somalia
176. Lanka Fundamental Rights Organization, Sri Lanka
177. Marikana youth development organisation, South Africa
178. Movimiento Tzuk Kim-pop, Guatemala
179. Myanmar Youth foundation for SDG, Myanmar
180. National Association of Professional Environmentalists(NAPE), Uganda
181. National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal
182. National Confederation of Dalit and Adivasi Organisations (NACDAOR), India
183. National Labour Academy, Nepal
184. National Society of Conservationists - Friends of the Earth Hungary
185. NCD Alliance in Georgia
186. Nepal Development Initiative (NEDI), Nepal
187. Network of Journalists Living with HIV (JONEHA), Malawi
188. New Millennium Women Empowerment Organization, Ethiopia
189. NGO Federation of Nepal
190. Nkoko Iju Africa, Kenya
191. Observatorio Mexicano de la Crisis, Mexico
192. Okoa Uchumi Campaign, Kenya
193. ONG Cooperación y Desarrollo, Guinea Ecuatorial
194. ONG Espoir Pour Tous, Côte d’Ivoire
195. Ong FEED, Niger
196. ONG PADJENA, Benin
197. ONG Santé et Action Globale, Togo
198. Organisation des Femmes Aveugles du Bénin
199. Pakistan Development Alliance
200. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
201. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
202. Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee
203. Peoples Development Institute, Phillippines
204. POSCO-Agenda 2030 Senegal
205. PROGRÈS SOCIAUX, Benin
206. Rapad Maroc, Morocco
207. REACHOUT SALONE, Sierra Leone
208. REBRIP - Rede Brasileira pela Integração dos Povos, Brazil
209. Recourse, The Netherlands
210. Red Dot Foundation Global, USA
211. Red Dot Foundation, India
212. Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC)
213. RENICC Nicaragua
214. RIHRDO (Rural Infrastructure and Human Resource Development Organization )
215. Rural Area Development Programme (RADP), Nepal
216. Rural Infrastructure and Human Resource development Organization (RIHRDO), Pakistan
217. SAFE EMPOWERED COMMUNITIES ASSOCIATION ZAMBIA
218. Sisters of Charity Federation
219. Social Economic and Governance Promotion Centre, Tanzania
220. Solidarité des femmes pour le Développement intégral (SOFEDI), R. D. Congo
221. Somali Youth Development Foundation (SYDF), Somalia
222. Sorouh for Sustainable Development Foundation-SSDF, Iraq
223. Stamp Out Poverty
224. State Employees Federation, Mauritius
225. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL, India
226. SYNAPECOCI, Côte d’Ivoire
227. Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development (TCDD)
228. Tax Justice Network US
229. The Institute for Social Accountability, Kenya
230. The Mango Tree, Kenya
231. The Rural Sector Public Institution CBO and Affiliated Entity’s With Multiple Distinct Components, Bangladesh
232. Toto Centre Initiative, Kenya
233. Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd, Malaysia
234. Uganda Peace Foundation
235. UIMS, Iraq
236. UndebtedWorld, Greece
237. Union des Amis Socio Culturels d’Action en Developpement (UNASCAD), Haiti
238. Uso Inteligente ASV A.C., México
239. VEILLE CITOYENNE TOGO
240. Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, India
241. WEED - World Economy, Ecology & Development e.V.
242. Western Kenya LBQT Feminist Forum (Lets Be Tested Queens CBO)
243. WIPGG Nigeria
244. WomanHealth Philippines
245. Women in Democracy and Governance (WIDAG), Kenya
246. Working With Women, Cameroun
247. WREPA, Kenya
248. Za Zemiata, Friends of the Earth Bulgaria
249. Zukunftskonvent Germany
250. Hawad Organization for Relief and Development


ACADEMICS / RESEARCHERS
251. Ahmad Mahdavi, University of Tehran/ and Sustainable agriculture and environment
252. Albert Gyan, Social Advocate (African Diaspora)
253. Annina Kaltenbrunner, Leeds University Business School UK
254. Brenda Awuor Odongo, Researcher on SRHR and Reproductive health
255. Claudio Schuftan, Researcher on human rights
256. Daniel Bradlow, Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law
257. Daniel Ortega-Pacheco, Center for Public Policy Development, ESPOL Polytechnic University, Ecuador
258. Dr. Adamu Abdullazeez Bako, Centre for Citizens Rights
259. Elisa Van Waeyenberge, SOAS University of London
260. Frances Stewart, University of Oxford
261. Gabriele Koehler, Researcher on 2030 Agenda eco-eco-social state, Germany
262. Gerry Helleiner, Prof. emeritus, Economics, University of Toronto
263. Grupo de Investigación en Derechos Colectivos y Ambientales GIDCA, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
264. Ilene Grabel, Distinguished University Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
265. Jorge Manuel Gil, Cátedra libre pensamiento latinoamericano, UNPSJB
266. Kevin P Gallagher, Global Development Policy Center, Boston University, USA
267. Lena Dominelli, University of Southampton, UK
268. María José Lubertino Beltrán, Profesora de Derechos Humanos, Universidad de Buenos Aires
269. Martin S. Edwards, Seton Hall University, School of Diplomacy and International Relations
270. Matthew Martin, Development Finance International
271. Michel Aglietta, emeritus professor in economics, Centre for Prospective Studies and International Information CEPII
272. Nora Fernández Mora, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador
273. Oscar Ugarteche, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, México
274. Remco van de Pas, Researcher on public health at ITM
275. Rick Rowden, Lecturer, American University in Washington DC
276. Rungani Aaron, Researcher, Zimbabwe
277. Sandra Janice Misiribi, Good Health Community Project
278. Shem Atuya Ayiera, ST. HEMMINGWAYS NGO
279. Spyros Marchetos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
280. Viktor Chistyakov, Columbia University

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National Catholic Reporter Quotes Eric LeCompte on Pope Francis' Speech in Malta

National Catholic Reporter quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Pope Francis' speech in Malta. Read the full article here

In Malta, Pope Francis criticizes those responsible for Ukraine war, forced migration

By Christopher White

Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, an interfaith organization advocating for debt relief for developing countries, said that Malta “has a long history of financial secrecy and has served as a tax haven and home of money laundering and facilitator of terrorist financing.”

"Whenever Pope Francis travels, he puts financial secrecy and corruption in his cross hairs,” LeCompte told NCR. 

“Knowing that secrecy and corruption harms the poor and society, he speaks explicitly about these problems," he said, adding that "the island has implemented many reforms and soon global authorities may remove it from the list of notorious countries that launder money.” 

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West Orlando News Quotes Executive Director Eric LeCompte on Puerto Rico

Executive Director Eric LeCompte comments on action needed in Puerto Rico. Read the full article here.  

Puerto Rico: Action Needed to Avoid New Bankruptcy, Reduce Child Poverty

By Rebecca Martin

In a statement on Puerto Rico’s debt settlement, 26 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders asserted that Puerto Rico will need economic development, fully-funded social programs and more than $55 billion in additional disaster aid to avoid new debt defaults. The statement comes after Congress “omnibus” budget negotiations failed to deliver additional Puerto Rico manufacturing jobs and funds for nutrition and supplemental security income. The final budget bill adds $200 million in Puerto Rico Medicaid funding.

“People across Puerto Rico continue to suffer because of the debt crisis and disasters that hit the island in recent years,” explained Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, the organization that coordinated the statement with Puerto Rico religious leaders. “For Puerto Rico’s debt to be sustainable and to reduce the high child poverty rates, new disaster relief and recovery monies are critical.”

 

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Catholic News Service Quotes Jubilee USA on Puerto Rico's Debt

Jubilee USA Network comments on Puerto Rico's debt in an article by Catholic News Service. Read the full article here

Puerto Rico religious leaders welcome long-awaited debt restructuring plan

By: Dennis Sadowski

“We should make sure that the debt payments do not come at the expense of the hunger of our people, including our children, 60% of whom live in stark poverty,” he said in a statement released March 14 by Jubilee USA, an alliance of faith-based development and debt relief advocacy organizations.

In their statement, the religious leaders called on Congress, the White House, creditors and other stakeholders to begin additional measures that would prevent Puerto Rico from having to renegotiate its debt again and to ensure that responses to climate change and “staggering child poverty” are carried out.

The leaders urged that economic development be prioritized so that manufacturing jobs can expand and sustainable infrastructure be built.

They also pressed for at least $50 billion of additional disaster recovery aid and that distribution of the $55 billion already approved be accelerated.

Other measures sought by the group include moving Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories to parity with U.S. states on nutrition, child poverty reduction, Medicaid, Medicare and tax relief programs, and the importance of a “debt audit” to promote transparency and accountability and stop “corruption and impunity.”

“As the end of bankruptcy is lauded, we continue to call for a true jubilee — a world where we all have enough, can live in dignity and honor the greatness of our creator,” the statement concluded.

 

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Puerto Rico: Action Needed to Avoid New Bankruptcy, Reduce Child Poverty and Support Island Recovery

26 Major US and Puerto Rico Faith Leaders Sign Statement Calling on White House, Congress and Elected Officials to Promote Island Development

Washington, DC In a statement on Puerto Rico’s debt settlement, 26 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders asserted that Puerto Rico will need economic development, fully-funded social programs and more than $55 billion in additional disaster aid to avoid new debt defaults. The statement comes after Congress "omnibus" budget negotiations failed to deliver additional Puerto Rico manufacturing jobs and funds for nutrition and supplemental security income. The final budget bill adds $200 million in Puerto Rico Medicaid funding. 

In January, the judge in charge of Puerto Rico's bankruptcy process, Laura Taylor Swain, approved a debt restructuring for the island.

“While we wished to see deeper debt cuts… Puerto Rico has now the opportunity for a path forward, and to forge a comprehensive strategy for recovery and economic development,” the leaders said in a statement.

The agreement cuts Puerto Rico's $72 billion debt by about 55%, but debt payments will only be sustainable, the religious leaders argue, if growth and economic recovery projections are accurate. The territory’s four-year bankruptcy process took place under federal legislation Jubilee USA and Puerto Rico religious leaders promoted in 2016, after the island defaulted on debt payments.

The leaders laid out a seven-point agenda for Congress, the White House and the island's government to expand manufacturing jobs and infrastructure and moving nutrition, Medicare, tax relief and other programs to the same status with US States. The leaders also urged greater government accountability and an audit of the island's debt.

"We should make sure that the debt payments do not come at the expense of the hunger of our people, including our children, 60% of whom live in stark poverty,” said Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez who heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan and a signer of the statement.

The heads of US and Puerto Rico churches signed the letter representing Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Christian (Disciples), Presbyterian, Baptist and Evangelical churches. The 26 signers include leaders of the National and Puerto Rico Council of Churches, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, the Caribbean Institute of Ecumenical Action and Formation, the Puerto Rico Bible Society and Jubilee USA Network.

"People across Puerto Rico continue to suffer because of the debt crisis and disasters that hit the island in recent years," explained Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, the organization that coordinated the statement with Puerto Rico religious leaders. "For Puerto Rico's debt to be sustainable and to reduce the high child poverty rates, new disaster relief and recovery monies are critical."

Read Religious Leaders Statement on Puerto Rico Debt Deal and Way Forward here

Lea la declaración de los líderes religiosos sobre el acuerdo de la deuda de Puerto Rico y el camino hacia adelante aquí.

Read Jubilee USA's January press release on Puerto Rico's debt settlement here

Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
Contact: Mizraim Belman Guerrero, Communications and Outreach Director
[email protected] / (202) 430-6975

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Declaración de Líderes Religiosos de Puerto Rico y EE. UU. Sobre el Acuerdo de Deuda y el Camino a Seguir

14 Marzo, 2022

Lea la declaración en PDF en españolinglés.

"El Espíritu del Señor sobre mí, porque me ha ungido para anunciar a los pobres la Buena Nueva, me ha enviado a proclamar la liberación a los cautivos y la vista a los ciegos, para dar la libertad a los oprimidos y proclamar un año de gracia del Señor."   --- Lucas, 4:18-19

Desde 2015, como líderes religiosos, reclamamos un Jubileo para la isla que es nuestro sagrado hogar, Nuestra Patria, Puerto Rico. Hemos levantado nuestra voz para advertir que nuestra niñez y nuestra patria estaban y siguen estando en crisis — Puerto Rico tenía deudas que no podían ni debían ser pagadas mientras casi 60% de nuestra niñez viven en la pobreza. Seguimos insistiendo en un Jubileo — La ordenanza de nuestro Dios amoroso que vivamos en una relación fraternal con el prójimo y que todos, especialmente nuestros niños, vivan en un mundo de suficiencia y dignidad.

Con nuestros socios de Jubilee USA Network —continuamos trabajando las crisis que enfrenta nuestro pueblo: la colonia, la deuda y la económica. Desde 2015, nos reunimos con los distintos sectores para buscar una solución permanente a nuestras crisis, de tal  forma, que reduzca la deuda, proteja a los y las vulnerables y que ubique a la isla en el camino de la prosperidad. En nuestro trabajo con Casa Blanca, líderes republicanos y demócratas en el Congreso, el gobierno de nuestra isla y con la colaboración de distintos sectores sociales, en la isla y en los Estados Unidos, se alcanzó una legislación para atender la emergencia de la crisis de deuda. La promesa fue legislar la reducción de nuestra deuda a niveles sostenibles y proteger a nuestro pueblo.  En este momento reconocemos, que aunque algunos aspectos de esta promesa se cumplieron, otros todavía no se han logrado para beneficio de nuestro pueblo. Reconocemos la reducción alcanzada de la deuda y de algunas protecciones que se consiguieron para nuestra niñez y jubilados.

La promesa de Jubileo para nuestro proceso de bancarrota y la condonación de la deuda comenzó; luego en 2017, los huracanes Irma y María devastaron Puerto Rico. Luego sobrevinieron los terremotos, la crisis de salud y el impacto económico del coronavirus añadieron nuevos desafíos a la resolución y recuperación de la deuda. 

Como personas de fe, creemos que el compromiso y el diálogo son principios fundamentales de nuestras tradiciones. Apreciamos los esfuerzos de nuestro gobierno, los acreedores y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal para encontrar un terreno común para trabajar la crisis financiera. Aunque esperábamos ver recortes mayores, destacamos la importancia de la reducción alcanzada de la deuda. Puerto Rico tiene ahora la oportunidad para salir adelante y de forjar una estrategia comprensiva para la recuperación y el desarrollo económico.

Como líderes religiosos, hacemos todo lo posible por ser pastores de nuestros rebaños, consolar a nuestra gente y buscar la justicia para ellos. Amando y caminado con nuestra gente, hemos aprendido que nuestros feligreses realmente nos guían y nos enseñan. De la necesidad, en los pasados siete (7) años hemos aprendido como la deuda, los impuestos y las problemas económicos recrudecen la pobreza y la desigualdad en nuestro pueblo. Con nuestros socios en el Caribe, África, Latinoamérica, Asia y a través de los países en desarrollo, aprendimos una lección magistral: la historia de la deuda es un proceso que frecuentemente requiere de varios intentos de reestructuración antes de llegar a un acuerdo final y duradero. Aunque reconocemos los avances en los acuerdos sobre quiebra de Puerto Rico, sabemos que nuestro trabajo no ha terminado, sino que debe continuar.

Las siguiente medidas son esenciales para prevenir que Puerto Rico vuelva a renegociar la deuda una y otra vez, y para garantizar que atendamos las dificultades que genera el cambio climático y superemos la epidemia de pobreza infantil:

  • En primer lugar, nuestro gobierno, el Congreso, la Casa Blanca, los acreedores y todas las partes interesadas deben dar prioridad a la financiación y a las medidas que nos ayuden a superar la pobreza infantil en Puerto Rico y proteger nuestra isla de los impactos del cambio climático.
  • Priorizar el desarrollo económico ampliando las oportunidades de trabajo en el sector manufacturero y el desarrollo de infraestructuras sostenibles y de calidad.
  • Adelantar por lo menos $50 billones de ayuda adicional para la recuperación de los desastres naturales y acelerar el desembolso de los $55 billones que el Congreso estadounidense ya ha asignado.
  • Como asunto de justicia, Puerto Rico y los demás territorios de EE.UU. deberían otorgarles, de forma permanente, la paridad con los estados de EE.UU. en materia de nutrición, reducción de la pobreza infantil, Medicaid, Medicare y programas de alivios contributivos.
  • Insistimos en la importancia contundente de realizar una auditoría de la deuda como mecanismo para acabar con la corrupción y la impunidad. La transparencia y la rendición de cuentas deben ser eje central de cualquier democracia real.
  • Hay que aprobar los beneficios del Seguro Social Suplementario (SSI) para auxiliar a 300,000 ciudadanos empobrecidos y vulnerables de la isla.
  • Dada la preocupación que tenemos por la sostenibilidad de la reestructuración de la deuda, la necesidad de prevenir futuras crisis y reestructuraciones económicas y alcanzar cuatro (4) años de presupuestos balanceados para prescindir de la supervisión de la junta instaurada por el gobierno federal - pedimos un alto grado de rendición de cuentas y una amplia participación en el desarrollo, la ejecución y el cumplimiento del presupuesto, incluyendo la creación de un comité independiente de ciudadanos/as autorizados/as para solicitar, revisar e informar públicamente sobre los asuntos presupuestarios.

Mientras se aplaude el fin de la quiebra, seguiremos insistiendo en un verdadero Jubileo: un mundo en el que todos poseamos lo suficiente, podamos vivir con dignidad y honremos la grandeza de nuestro creador.

 

Firmantes

Roberto O. González Nieves, OFM
Arzobispo Metropolitano de la Arquidiócesis de San Juan Puerto Rico

Rubén González Medina, CMF
Obispo de la Diócesis de Ponce Puerto Rico

Reverendo Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal
Obispo de la Iglesia Metodista de Puerto Rico

Reverenda Idalia Negrón Caamaño
Obispa del Sínodo del Caribe de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América

Reverenda Zodet Zambrana
Moderadora del Sínodo Boriquén, Iglesia Presbiteriana (USA) en Puerto Rico

Reverenda Hilda Robles Florán
Pastora General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Edgardo Caraballo Marín
Ministro Ejecutivo de las Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Edward Rivera Santiago
Pastor General de la Iglesia Evangélica Unida de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Héctor Soto Vélez
Director Ejecutivo del Concilio de Iglesias de Puerto Rico

Reverenda Eunice Santana Melecio
Directora del Instituto Ecuménico de Acción y Formación del Caribe

Reverendo Felipe Lozada Montañez
Obispo Emérito de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Esteban González Dobles
Pasado Pastor General de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Rafael Moreno Rivas
Obispo Emérito de la Iglesia Metodista de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Heriberto Martínez Rivera
Secretario General de la Sociedad Bíblica de Puerto Rico

Reverendo Enrique Camacho
Director Ejecutivo de Cáritas (Caridades Católicas) de Puerto Rico

 

Adherentes

Reverendo Paul S. Coakley
Arzobispo de la Arquidiócesis de la Ciudad de Oklahoma
Presidente del Comité de Justicia Doméstica y Desarrollo Humano
Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos

Reverenda Elizabeth A. Eaton
Obispa Presidente de la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América

Reverendo Dr. John C. Dorhauer
Ministro General y Presidente de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos

Reverenda Teresa Hord Owens
Ministra General y Presidente de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) en Estados Unidos

Reverendo Marco A. Cable
Presidente, División de Ministerios en el Exterior y Co-Ejecutiva, Ministerios Globales de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) y la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos

Reverenda Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson
Ministra General Asociada para Ministerios y Operaciones Globales de la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos; Co-Ejecutiva, Ministerios Globales de la Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) y la Iglesia Unida de Cristo en Estados Unidos

Reverendo Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
Secretario Permanente de la Asamblea General, Iglesia Presbiteriana (USA) en Puerto Rico)

Obispa Teresa Jefferson-Snorton
Presidente de la Junta de Gobierno del Concilio Nacional de Iglesias de Estados Unidos

Reverenda Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
Secretaria General, Junta General de la Iglesia y Sociedad de la Iglesia Metodista Unida en Estados Unidos

Donna J. Markham OP, PhD, ABPP
Presidente & CEO de Caridades Católicas de Estados Unidos

Eric LeCompte
Director Ejecutivo, Jubilee USA Network


Lea la declaración en PDF en españolinglés.

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Puerto Rico and US Religious Leaders Statement on Debt Settlement and the Way Forward

Read the statement as a PDF in English and Spanish.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” --- Luke 4:18-19

Since 2015, as religious leaders, we called for a Jubilee for our sacred island home, Nuestra Patria, Puerto Rico. We sought to raise the alarm that our children and our homeland were and continue to be in crisis - Puerto Rico held debts that could not and should not be paid as nearly 60% of our children struggle in poverty. We still call for a Jubilee - our loving God's demand that we live in a fraternal relationship with one another and that all of us, especially our children, should live in a world of enough and dignity.

With our partners from Jubilee USA Network - we continue to confront the colonial, debt and economic crises that face our people. Since 2015, we met with all parties to seek a permanent solution to our crises that cuts the debt, protects the vulnerable and sets the island on a path of prosperity. Working with the White House, our island's government and Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress, with the efforts of many social sectors, on the island and in the United States, we collaborated with others to achieve legislation to address the emergency debt crisis. The legislation was a promise to cut our debt to sustainable levels and protect our people. Today we acknowledge that while some aspects of this promise were fulfilled, other aspects of the promise never came to benefit our people. We acknowledge the debts that were cut and some of the protections that were won for our children and retirees.

Our bankruptcy process with a promise for a Jubilee, a forgiveness of debt, began and then in 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated Puerto Rico. Then came the earthquakes and the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus added new challenges to debt resolution and recovery.

As people of faith, we believe engagement and dialogue are central tenets of our traditions. We appreciate the efforts on the part of our government, the creditors and the Financial Oversight and Management Board to find common ground. While we wished to see deeper debt cuts, we greatly appreciate the importance of the debt reduction achieved. Puerto Rico has now the opportunity for a path forward, and to forge a comprehensive strategy for recovery and economic development.

As religious leaders we do our best to be pastors of our flocks, to comfort our people and to seek justice for them. Having loved and walked with our people, we have learned that our flocks truly guide and teach us. Out of necessity these past 7 years we had to learn how debt, tax and economic issues exacerbate poverty and inequality for our people. With our partners in the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, Asia and throughout the developing world, we learned a sobering lesson: the history of debt is that it often takes several restructuring attempts before reaching a lasting settlement. While we acknowledge the progress in Puerto Rico's bankruptcy accords, we know our work has not ended, but must continue.

The following measures are essential for preventing Puerto Rico from having to renegotiate the debt again and again, and to ensure that we deal with the impacts of climate change and end our staggering child poverty epidemic:

  • First and foremost, our government, Congress, the White House, creditors and all stakeholders must prioritize funding and measures that end child poverty in Puerto Rico and protect our island from the impacts of climate change.
  • Prioritize economic development by expanding manufacturing jobs and building quality, sustainable infrastructure.
  • Move forward at least $50 billion of additional disaster recovery aid and accelerate disbursement of the $55 billion that the US Congress already allocated.
  • As a matter of fundamental justice Puerto Rico and the other US territories should be moved to a permanent basis of parity with the US States on nutrition, child poverty reduction, Medicaid, Medicare and tax relief programs.
  • We insist on the utmost importance of conducting a debt audit as a mechanism to stop corruption and impunity. Transparency and accountability must be a central axis of any real democracy.
  • Supplemental Security Income payments that benefit 300,000 poor and vulnerable citizens on the island must be unblocked.
  • Given the concerns we have about the sustainability of the debt restructuring, the need to prevent future restructurings and economic crises, and have 4 years of balanced budgets to remove the oversight of the federally installed board - we call for a high degree of accountability and broad participation in budget development, execution and monitoring, including by the creation of an independent citizen accountability committee empowered to request, review and publicly report on budgetary information.

As the end of bankruptcy is lauded, we continue to call for a true Jubilee - a world where we all have enough, can live in dignity and honor the greatness of our creator.

 

Signatures

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

Rubén González Medina CMF
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ponce

Reverend Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal
Bishop of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico

Reverend Idalia Negrón Caamaño
Bishop of the Caribbean Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Reverend Zodet Zambrana
Moderator Boriquén Synod, Presbyterian Church (USA) in Puerto Rico

Reverend Hilda Robles Florán
General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico

Reverend Edgardo Caraballo Marin
Executive Minister of the Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico

Reverend Edward Rivera Santiago
General Pastor of the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico

Reverend Héctor Soto Vélez
Executive Director of the Council of Churches of Puerto Rico

Reverend Eunice Santana Melecio
Director of the Caribbean Institute of Ecumenical Action and Formation

Reverend Felipe Lozada Montañez
Emeritus Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran in Puerto Rico

Reverend Esteban González Dobles
Former General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico

Reverend Rafael Moreno Rivas
Emeritus Bishop of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico

Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera
General Secretary of the Puerto Rico Bible Society

Reverend Enrique Camacho
Executive Director of Cáritas (Catholic Charities) of Puerto Rico


Endorsements

Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City
Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Reverend Dr. John C. Dorhauer
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ

Reverend Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Reverend Marco A. Cable
President, Division of Overseas Ministries and Co-Executive Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Reverend Dr. Karen Georgia A. Thompson
Associate General Minister for Wider Church Ministries and Operations, Co-executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton
Governing Board Chair of the National Council of Churches

Reverend Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
General Secretary, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society

Donna J. Markham OP, PhD, ABPP
President & CEO, Catholic Charities USA

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network

Read the statement as a PDF in English and Spanish.

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