World Health Assembly Wrestles with Coronavirus

Leaders Urged to Address Health and Economic Impacts of Pandemic

Washington DC - As the global coronavirus death toll tops 300,000 people, the leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO) prepare to hold their leadership meetings virtually from May 18th - 19th.

"As world leaders gather, it is crucial that they ensure there are no trade barriers for any country to receive life-saving medicines and medical equipment as the coronavirus spreads," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. "During these meetings, we must send a message that debts need to be cut and aid must move quickly to developing countries as they confront the virus."

Ahead of the WHO's World Health Assembly meetings, Jubilee USA organized a letter to the G20, IMF and White House urging debt relief and resources to fund health services in the developing world. The letter further calls for policies to improve the arbitration of debt and enacting transparency and tax agreements so countries can emerge with "more resilience."

The 120 signers include: All Africa Council of Churches, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jubilee USA Network, American Friends Service Committee, Church World Service, American Jewish World Service, Buddhist Association of the United States, the largest groupings of Quakers and representing US Reformed Jews, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. More than 100 Catholic congregations, synagogues, churches and muslim groups from Virginia to Montana to Nebraska to Oregon joined the letter. The largest labor union in the United States, the AFL-CIO, and Oxfam joined the letter. In conjunction with Jubilee USA, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis and 165 world leaders, pressed these issues too.

The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called for expanded debt relief and aid for broader groups of developing countries to confront the coronavirus pandemic. The UN Conference on Trade and Development called for a trillion dollars of debt to be eliminated so countries can get through the crisis. The IMF and G20 issued recent plans to offer 6 months of debt cancellation for the poorest countries and debt payment suspensions for 2020.

"The G20 and IMF must do more so we can all survive the economic and health impacts of this crisis," said LeCompte. "People are dying because of this virus and people are starving because of this crisis."

Read the Letter signed by 120 organizations and faith communities to the President, IMF and G20 to cancel debts, mobilize resources and pass financial crisis protections to protect the poor here

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

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

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Catholic News Service, Crux Features Jubilee USA and Eric LeCompte on Coronavirus Efforts

Catholic News Service interviewed Eric LeCompte on our faith community letter to world leaders calling for debt relief. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

Advocates seek debt relief so poor nations can better respond to pandemic

CLEVELAND (CNS) -- Advocates for debt relief for the world's poorest countries are calling on international policymakers to cancel debt payments and expand debt relief for developing nations to bolster health care and protect vulnerable people and workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The request from more than 100 organizations, including more than two dozen Catholic religious congregations, came in a May 15 letter to the International Monetary Fund, representatives of 20 industrial and emerging economies, or G-20 nations, and President Donald Trump.

It comes in advance of the May 18 opening of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. The global pandemic response will be the major item of business during the meeting, which was rescheduled to take place online.

Decisions by the assembly are likely to affect the upcoming G-20 and Group of Seven meetings this summer.

Eric LeCompte, executive director Jubilee USA, an alliance of faith-based development and advocacy groups that drafted the letter, told Catholic News Service that action on canceling the debt would allow poor countries to devote more resources to respond to the pandemic.

The G-20 nations agreed to suspend debt payments owed to them by 76 of the world's poorest countries. The agreement covers payments through 2020.

Debt cancellation and the suspension of payments was one of four policies the advocates said were necessary to prevent a serious financial crisis from engulfing the world economy, LeCompte said.

Other issues raised in the letter include:

-- Identifying additional revenues that nations can tap to respond to the economic and health impacts of the pandemic.

-- Improving debt restructuring and implementing debt payment moratoria for countries affected by the coronavirus.

-- Supporting all countries as they emerge from the crisis "with more resilience by encouraging policies and agreements to increase protections for the vulnerable, instill greater public budget transparency, implement financial crisis and market protections, promote responsible lending and borrowing, and curb corruption and tax evasion."

LeCompte said such steps would move a global economic recovery along and "protect all of us from financial crisis."

He added that he believed the actions would head off future financial crises that may be caused by another pandemic, economic upheaval or massive food shortage.

"If we don't have a process in place, we're just setting ourselves up for failure again," he said.

Pope Francis in his traditional Easter message "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) called for forgiveness, or at least a reduction, of the foreign debt of the world's poorest nations.

The pope also has established a COVID-19 response commission in the Dicastery for Integral Human Development to examine the challenges the world is facing in battling the pandemic and what it will inevitably face in its aftermath.

Among its tasks, the commission is reviewing debt of the world's poorest countries, joining the plea of Pope Francis and a wide variety of leaders in calling for debt relief -- either through the suspension of payments or an outright forgiveness of debt.

 

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Big news, our analysis goes global, Barron's/Dow Jones

Friends,

In recent weeks, Jubilee USA Network's views and our coronavirus campaigns appeared in more than 100,000 newspapers and TV and radio shows.

We just published this column in Barron's and Dow Jones. This syndicated column will appear in coming days in the global Wall Street Journal family of publications.

Click here and read our global analysis on what we won in our Jubilee USA coronavirus efforts, what we need to win in the next few months and our focus for the next few years in Barron's and Dow Jones. They took down the paywall in the world's most prestigious finance magazines. Just x out the ad and read our article.

Barron's dubbed our in-depth column titles like, Adam Smith and Pope Francis Agree, Let Countries Declare Bankruptcy and The World's Poor are Drowning in Debt.

When you read our column, we break down the short-term and long-term efforts we need to cure the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus, from taxes, corruption, using global financial reserves, debt laws and bankruptcy. 

Read our column and share it within your communities. When you go to Barron's, you can X away the ad and read our global analysis.

So grateful for your support and partnership,

Eric

 

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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Eric LeCompte Barron's Column on Coronavirus and Financial Crisis

Barron's invited Eric LeCompte to pen an op-ed on the coronavirus financial crisis and debt relief solutions. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

The World’s Poor Are Drowning in Debt. Here’s How to Help Them.

The coronavirus is spurring the worst downturn since the Great Depression, warns the International Monetary Fund.The U.N. World Food Programme says 265 million more people now face famine.

The pandemic forces work stoppages, shutters factories, and eliminates tourism and travel. The International Labor Organization projects more than 195 million jobs lost. While governments lose revenue, they must increase spending to protect the poor and businesses.

High debts for many countries make it impossible to negotiate the corona crisis. The IMF and World Bank reported, prior to the virus, that 40% of low-income countries were already in debt crisis or held worrisome debt levels. Unsustainable debt leaves little space for countries that need to enact stimulus packages like the U.S. passed. Treasuries already lacked billions because of corruption, tax evasion, and tax avoidance.

More than 100 countries now request emergency IMF financing to deal with virus health and economic impacts.

Before Covid-19, too many health care systems were weak because of austerity policies in place to pay debt. In fact, most of the 76 poorest countries have fewer than 50 critical care units for millions of people. Some have none. Two-thirds of the world’s people who live in extreme poverty call these 76 countries home.

What are the short-term solutions to bolster global health care and survive a possible economic collapse?

The IMF, World Bank, G7, G20, and U.N. are debating solutions.

While the IMF provides rapid, below market-rate loans to a growing number of countries, more resources will be needed. One answer is found in our response to the 2008 financial crisis. We accessed $250 billion in global reserves, also known as the special drawing rights or SDRs.

There are growing calls for the IMF and G20 to allocate a trillion in new SDRs to low-income and middle-income countries. This is doable and could provide immediate resources to developing countries to strengthen health care and to pass the bridge financing needed to support workers and the poor. With few short-term options, this proved effective before and we should do it again.

We’ve seen other powerful short-term actions led by the U.S. Treasury, G20, IMF, and World Bank on debt relief. In April, the IMF cancelled six months of debt payments for the world’s 25 poorest countries, and G20 countries agreed to stop collecting debt for 73 countries through 2020. Countries that count their budgets in the tens of millions now have $22 billion to confront the coronavirus.

Is it enough?

African finance ministers are calling for $44 billion in debt relief. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development calls for a trillion dollars in debt cancellation for countries to survive.

In the absence of an actual system to globally adjudicate all types of debt, like the bankruptcy processes we have in our own domestic economies, moving forward debt restructuring in the best interest of both the lender and borrower seems challenging.

Still, in the short term there are signs that political will is growing to relieve more debt. The IMF and World Bank closed their April meetings with a historical bang, committing to look at debt relief for middle-income countries and other countries that might need it as the crisis deepens. The G20 and IMF called all other types of creditors (banks, private and commercial) to negotiate debt payment suspensions. Again, the challenge is that without the formal bankruptcy that we have in our home countries, you can’t make sure every debt holder comes to the party.

However, in the short term, the IMF, G7, and G20 can make decisions that move us toward more predictable bankruptcy-like processes. The G7 countries house the financial jurisdictions that arbitrate most of the world’s private sovereign debt. Changes to laws in New York and London can ensure private creditors accept invitations to debt-settlement soirees.

If we treat the 2020 debt-payment moratorium for 73 countries like the first phase of bankruptcy, we have breathing space to figure out if it’s possible to pay debts, strengthen health care, and reduce child poverty. The IMF committed to review debt problems. June and July G7 and G20 meetings can set the stage to relieve and restructure debt. These meetings are the opportunity to review the need for further debt relief for the developing middle-income countries as well.

After past crises, we’ve flirted with global, comprehensive bankruptcy processes.

In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in the early 2000s, the U.S. Treasury and IMF supported a bankruptcy process known as the Sovereign Debt Resolution Mechanism that failed to be implemented. As we recovered from the 2008 financial crisis and wrestled with financial crises in Argentina and Greece, world leaders briefly again entertained a process. The United Nations General Assembly even passed a bankruptcy process in 2014, but it wasn’t binding.

The father of modern economics, Adam Smith, advocated for such a process. Pope Francis supports this arbitration mechanism.

There were moments when we learned the lesson of exporting bankruptcy beyond our domestic borders. The 1953 London Accord brought all stakeholders together to restructure Germany’s debt in a process fair to creditors and debtors, a process creating the path for one of the strongest economies that ever existed. While never adequately used, super bankruptcy measures were passed for Puerto Rico by the Republican-led Congress in 2016.

My organization, Jubilee USA Network, has won more than $130 billion of debt relief for developing economies since the early 2000s to increase social spending on health and education. Many of those same countries were again in debt crisis before this pandemic hit. Our name, Jubilee, comes from scripture sacred to Jews and Christians about a continual promised process, beyond debt relief to ensure that in times of peace or crisis, we all are protected from having too little or too much.

As we plan to emerge from this crisis, with wisdom to prevent the next crisis, will we move beyond debt relief and accept the promise of Jubilee?

 

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Buenos Aires Times, Pagina12 Cover Eric LeCompte Argentina Debt Plan Support

Pagina12 and the Buenos Aires Times covered Eric LeCompte and other top economist's support of the newly proposed Argentina debt plan. Read an excerpt below, and click here and here for the full stories.

High-profile economists back Argentina's debt restructuring bid

The full name of signatories: Jeffrey D. Sachs, Columbia University; Dani Rodrik, Harvard Kennedy School; Thomas Piketty, School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences; Mariana Mazzucato, University College London; Kenneth Rogoff, former IMF chief economist and Harvard University; Brad Setser, Council on Foreign Relations; Ricardo Hausmann, former IADB Chief Economist and Harvard Kennedy School; Carlos Ominami, former Economy Minister, Chile; Yu Yongding, former member of the Monetary Policy Committee, People’s Bank of China; Erik Berglof, former EBRD chief economist and London School of Economics; Nora Lustig, Tulane University; Nelson Barbosa, former Minister of Finance and Planning; Justin Yifu Lin, former World Bank chief economist and Peking University; Partha Dasgupta, University of Cambridge; Kevin P. Gallagher, Boston University; Stephany Griffith-Jones, Columbia University; Stephanie Blankenburg, UNCTAD; Richard Kozul-Wright, UNCTAD; Ricardo French Davis, University of Chile; James K. Galbraith, University of Texas; Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Sciences Po; Amar Bhattacharya, Brookings Institution; Robert Boyer, National Scientific Research Council; Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Robert Howse, NYU Law; Giovanni Dosi, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna; Juan Carlos Moreno Brid, National Autonomous University of Mexico; Josh Bivens, Economic Policy Institute; Arjun Jayadev, Azim Premji University; David Soskice, London School of Economics; Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Mauro Gallegati, Università Politecnica Delle Marche; Natalya Naqvi, London School of Economics; Daniela Gabor, UWE Bristol; Marcus Miller, University of Warwick; John E. Roemer, Yale University; William H. Janeway, University of Cambridge; Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research and University of Utah; Gerald Epstein, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Anwar Shaikh, New School University; Kaushik Basu, Cornell University; Matias Vernengo, Bucknell University; Philippe Aghion, London School of Economics; Anne Laure Delatte, Centre d’Etudes Prospectives et d’Informations Internationales; Sudhir Anand, London School of Economics; Christoph Trebesch, University of Kiel; John Weeks, University of London; David Vines, University of Oxford; Saskia Sassen, Columbia University; Sandra Polaski, Boston University; Thomas Pogge, Yale University; Rhys Jenkins, University of East Anglia; Jurgen Kaiser, Jubilee Germany; Gary A. Dymski, University of Leeds; Andreas Antoniades, University of Sussex; Raphael Kaplinsky, University of Sussex; Diane Elson, University of Essex; Ernst Stetter, former secretary general, Foundation for European Progressive Studies; Ozlem Onaran, University of Greenwich; Todd Howland, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Isabel Ortiz, Columbia University; Carolina Alves, University of Cambridge; Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Network; Richard Jolly, University of Sussex; Christoph Trebesch, University of Kiel; Diego Sanchez-Ancochea, University of Oxford; Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research; Lara Merling, International Trade Union Confederation; Pedro Mendes Loureiro, University of Cambridge; Ilene Grabel, University of Denver; Sabri Öncü, CAFRAL; David Hall, University of Greenwich; Jose Esteban Castro, Newcastle University; Andy McKay, University of Sussex; Stefano Prato, Society for International Development; Rosemary Thorp, University of Oxford; Barry Herman, The New School for Public Engagement; Andres Aruaz, former Minister of Knowledge and Central Bank General Director, Ecuador; Manuel Alcántara, University of Salamanca; Alex Izurieta, UNCTAD; Michael Cichon, UNU Maastricht; Biswajit Dhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum; Nicolas Pons-Vignon, University of the Witwatersrand; Jean Saldanha, European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad); Leonidas Vatikiotis, Debtfree Project; Valpy FitzGerald, University of Oxford; Giovanni Andrea Cornia, University of Florence; Matthias Thiemann, Sciences Po; Yılmaz Akyüz, former chief economist, South Centre, Geneva; Stephan Schulmeister, University of Vienna; Eduardo Strachman, São Paulo State University; Peter Dorman, Evergreen State College; C.P. Chandrasekhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Leopoldo Rodriguez, Portland State University; Chris Tilly, University of California Los Angeles; Tracy Mott, University of Denver; Jeffrey Madrick, Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative; Günseli Berik, University of Utah; Joseph Ricciardi, Babson College; Lorenzo Pellegrini, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Erinc Yeldan, Bilkent University; Sunil Ashra, Management Development Institute; Mustafa Özer, Anadolu University, Turkey; Rolph van der Hoeven, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Al Campbell, University of Utah; Antonella Palumbo, Università Roma Tre; Arthur MacEwan, University of Massachusetts Boston; Neva Goodwin, Tufts University; Korkut Boratav, Turkish Social Science Association; Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Alicia Puyana, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Mexico; John Willoughby, American University; Marco Palacios, El Colegio de Mexico; Reza Mazhari, Gonbad Gavous University, Iran; Ann Markusen, University of Minnesota; Renee Prendergast, Queens University; Michael Moore, University of Warwick; Carlos A. Carrasco, Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico; Robert Lynch, Washington College; John Schmitt, Economic Policy Institute; Venkatesh Athreya, Bharathidasan University; Jeff Faux, Economic Policy Institute; Kunibert Raffer, University of Vienna; Jenik Radon, Columbia University; Maria Joao Rodrigues, Foundation for European Progressive Studies; Stephanie Seguino, University of Vermont; Gustavo Indart, University of Toronto; Cyrus Bina, University of Minnesota; Alberto Minujin, The New School; Philip Alston, NYU; Sudhir Anand, London School of Economics; José Gabriel Palma, Cambridge University; Michael A. Cohen, The New School; Jeff Powell, University of Greenwich; and Rob Johnson, President, INET.  

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Anger, sadness, too much loss

Friends,

We are mourning at Jubilee USA for all of the lives that the coronavirus took from us.

From our network around the world and across the US we've lost too many friends and colleagues. So many of our chapters, congregations and partners of all faiths are suffering losses. We've seen pastors of our congregations fall to the virus.

In recent weeks, the coronavirus hit hard and killed members from the Sisters of Mercy, the Jesuits, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and St. Francis and the Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers and Sisters.

Our dear friends who dedicated their lives to service are lost to this disease.

As we wrestle with grief and anger, in honor of all those suffering around the world, we've updated our Prayers in a Time of Pandemic. Now included is a beautiful poem from Roberta Badger-Cain from Jubilee Oregon. The poem is inspired by Cardinal Peter Turkson's recent prayer and speech he offered to the members of Jubilee USA on our recent national and global video call.

You can download this vital poem and prayer resource here. Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ friends contributed to this traditional and interfaith resource. We hope our resource will lift, inspire and challenge you.

As you know from the e-mails below, our efforts are seeing success and have never been more important. Amidst our anger and sadness, we are seizing this moment when world leaders are focusing on our Jubilee USA efforts - to tackle inequality and end extreme poverty.

In May, June and July, world leaders will make further decisions on our debt, trade, tax and transparency campaigns. We are grateful that you are with us as we approach these critical decision points in the coming days.

Someone I was lucky to work with and a friend of Jubilee USA, John Prine, was lost to the virus. John was a magical musician who inspires us still. As our journey together continues, I leave you with his words of hope and lament from his song, Angel from Montgomery:


"If dreams were thunder
And lightning was desire
This old house would've burned down
A long time ago

"Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin'
Is just a hard way to go"

In hope,
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SwissInfo Quotes Eric LeCompte on Emergency IMF Ecuador Credit

SwissInfo quotes Eric LeCompte on the IMF's emergency Ecuador credit for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

FMI da crédito de emergencia a Ecuador azotado por Covid y bajos precios del crudo

Eric LeCompte de la organización Jubilee USA Network señaló que "debido a las altas deudas y a las políticas de austeridad, países como Ecuador, no pueden dar servicios de salud básicos para afrontar el coronavirus".

"Y mucho menos para ayudar a su pueblo a sobrevivir este desastre económico", sentenció LeCompte en un comunicado.


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Developing Countries Struggle with Coronavirus Health and Economic Impacts

Additional Resources Urgently Needed Says Religious Development Coalition

Washington DC - From Ecuador to the Dominican Republic to Ethiopia, developing countries are struggling to obtain aid and financing to address the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

"Because of high debts and austerity policies, countries like Ecuador cannot provide basic health services to confront the coronavirus, let alone help their people survive the economic disaster," stated Eric LeCompte a United Nations finance expert who leads the religious development group, Jubilee USA Network. "While international institutions and aid groups are providing what they can, it's not enough to confront the enormity of this global crisis."

On Friday, the International Monetary Fund is expected to approve $500 million in emergency financing for Ecuador. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved $700 million in loans for the beleaguered South American Country. About $350 million of the IDB funds are destined to bolster health services and support small businesses. In March, Ecuador's Congress called for a suspension of debt payments on the country's $4.6 billion public debt. 2020 debt payments for Ecuador would surpass 30% of the country's revenue.

In the Caribbean, only Haiti will see debt relief in a plan released from the IMF in April. As hurricane season approaches and islands wrestle with high poverty rates, the IMF predicts a 6.2% contraction of the region's economy. This week the IMF approved concessional financing of $650 million for the Dominican Republic.

As African countries confront the crisis, a number of countries received similar financing packages. Ethiopia will receive a $411 million package. African Finance Ministers called for suspension of debt payments to free up $44 billion to fight Covid-19. 

"While the IMF is using just about every tool at its disposal to deal with the crisis, the aid and relief so far is not enough," said LeCompte. "To confront the crisis, the G20 needs to move forward broader debt relief and debt restructuring processes that include the private sector. The IMF and World Bank needs to cancel debts. Countries need to be able to access emergency financial reserves or what's known as the special drawing rights."

The World Bank and IMF released a joint paper on April 17th noting that as the economic crisis deepens, they would consider expanding debt relief to a broader set of developing countries.

In a March 23rd letter to the IMF, Jubilee USA called for a “well-designed, globally-coordinated response from the international community" to address the health and economic impacts of the crisis. The development group detailed a plan to expand debt relief, aid, financing, improve debt restructuring and move forward financial crisis protections and transparency initiatives.

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

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

Read about the Major Religious Institutions Letter to the President, IMF and G20 to Cancel Debts and Use Reserves to Protect Poor here

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Rome News-Tribune Quotes Eric LeCompte on Global Financial Crisis

The Rome News-Tribune featured Eric LeCompte's thoughts on the COVID-19 global recession and the potential impact on Latin America and Caribbean. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Coronavirus could push Latin America, Caribbean into deepest recession since 1930s

But the only country in the region that might benefit from that measure is Haiti, said Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert and director of the Jubilee USA Network, a religious development group that has been a longtime advocate for debt forgiveness.

“Many of the Latin American and Caribbean countries don’t qualify for any type of debt relief measure because they are considered too wealthy,” LeCompte said. “We’d like to see it extended to Ecuador, Bolivia, Grenada, Jamaica and other countries that could benefit from a debt standstill but need even more relief.”

And even what might be offered to Haiti isn’t enough, donors said, given the nation’s fragile economic state. During a recent emergency meeting of the CARICOM bloc of Caribbean countries, leaders agreed to lobby the G20 and international finance institutions for full-fledged debt write-offs and emergency funding for the rest of the Caribbean.

Also this month, the International Monetary Fund began offering below-market-rate emergency loans that might allow some countries to bolster health services or provide U.S.-style stimulus packages to keep workers employed. For many nations it’s simply piling debt on top of unsustainable debt, LeCompte said, but “it’s better than nothing.”

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Eric LeCompte Interviewed by Miami Herald on Latin America, Caribbean Debt

The Miami Herald interviewed Eric LeCompte on coronavirus impacts on the economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

Coronavirus could push Latin America, Caribbean into deepest recession since 1930s

But the only country in the region that might benefit from that measure is Haiti, said Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert and director of the Jubilee USA Network, a religious development group that has been a longtime advocate for debt forgiveness.

“Many of the Latin American and Caribbean countries don’t qualify for any type of debt relief measure because they are considered too wealthy,” LeCompte said. “We’d like to see it extended to Ecuador, Bolivia, Grenada, Jamaica and other countries that could benefit from a debt standstill but need even more relief.”

And even what might be offered to Haiti isn’t enough, donors said, given the nation’s fragile economic state. During a recent emergency meeting of the CARICOM bloc of Caribbean countries, leaders agreed to lobby the G20 and international finance institutions for full-fledged debt write-offs and emergency funding for the rest of the Caribbean.

Also this month, the International Monetary Fund began offering below-market-rate emergency loans that might allow some countries to bolster health services or provide U.S.-style stimulus packages to keep workers employed. For many nations it’s simply piling debt on top of unsustainable debt, LeCompte said, but “it’s better than nothing.”

 

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Update: IMF, G20 Moving Our Proposals

Friends, 

Jubilee USA's coronavirus proposals to lift the vulnerable and protect all of us from financial crisis continue to move at the IMF, G20, White House and Congress.

Last week, Jubilee's Executive Director, Eric LeCompte, met with the heads of the IMF and World Bank. Since then we've continued daily meetings with Finance Ministers and world leaders on our proposals. We are now working with our Republican and Democratic partners to authorize last week's coronavirus crisis victories in the next stimulus package.

Now nearly 100 religious groups, labor unions and partners signed our letter to the G20, IMF and White House to cancel debt and increase aid to developing and developed countries, bolster global healthcare, move forward transparency and anti-corruption proposals and put in place policies to protect all of from the financial crisis.

Will you join us and sign and share our 4 point call to action to the IMF now? We'll deliver our next round of petitions and letters to the IMF next week.

Yesterday the head of the United Nations, António Guterres, echoed our proposals to expand debt relief and aid to more countries! The UN Conference on Trade and Development encouraged the creation of a process to create a new global financial crisis mechanism.

Linked here, you'll see Eric's e-mail from Sunday with an in-depth overview of our work and prayer, action and education resources.

We're so grateful for your partnership. As we've entered Ramadan, we lift this holy time for our Muslim members and partners.

Best,


Kate Zeller
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Argentina and Creditors Struggle to Agree on Debt Plans

Washington DC - In less than three weeks, Argentina and it's creditors must reach a deal on restructuring the South American country's $70 billion debt or risk default. Last week, Argentina offered a proposal to creditors that was rejected by enough debt holders to thwart the plan.

"Argentina was running out of money to pay debt before the coronavirus struck," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte's group monitored Argentina debt since the early 2000s. Then in 2014, Jubilee USA filed to the US Supreme Court when Argentina's last debt crisis faced US Court arbitration. "As the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus worsen, Argentina's ability to pay debt becomes more uncertain."

On Wednesday Argentina missed a $500 million debt payment which set in motion a possible default by the end of May if Argentina and it's creditors cannot reach a new debt agreement. Argentina's proposed debt plan represents a more than 60% cut on the country's debt payments and some investors say the country can pay more and offer better terms.

"In light of the coronavirus and the suffering of Argentina's people, the initial plan is reasonable," said LeCompte, who serves on United Nations debt expert groups. "Vulnerable and poor people are the ones who suffer most because of the country's economic woes."

Argentina's efforts to surmount recent debt challenges are supported by the International Monetary Fund, G20 leaders and Pope Francis.

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