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

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

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

By Eric Martin

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

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

 

 

Read the full article here.

Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Treasury Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable agenda here

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

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

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

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

Read More

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Jubilee USA Network Roundtable Agenda

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

(Roundtable closed to public)

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

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

III. Jubilee USA Agenda Presentations 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.) Secretary Janet Yellen Address

V.) Interactive Roundtable Discussion

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

Read More

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

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

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

By Andrea Shalal

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

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

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

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

 

 

Read the full article here.

Read More

Stimulus Package Aids Puerto Rico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More

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

Shia Muslim Leader and Pope to Meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the IMF's recent report on Iraq here.
Read More

Bloomberg Features Jubilee Letter to IMF on Special Drawing Rights

Bloomberg features Jubilee's letter to the IMF supporting special drawing rights in light of upcoming G20 agreements. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

G-20 Moves Toward Consensus on IMF Reserve Firepower Boost

By Saleha MohsinAlessandra Migliaccio, and Eric Martin

Yellen on Thursday endorsed strengthening support for developing nations, saying that “without further international action to support low-income countries, we risk a dangerous and permanent divergence in the global economy.” The IMF and World Bank “must continue to play a role in financing the global health response,” she said.

While an expansion in the IMF’s resources could help low-income nations in the fight against the coronavirus, the G-20 and others need to work toward “greater transparency and accountability” in the use of the fund’s firepower.

More than 200 groups, including the Jubilee USA Network, had called on the G-20 to support the creation of $3 trillion in SDRs. They say the funds are needed to provide debt relief in developing nations and help free up resources for health care and social spending. Some Democrats in Congress have pledged support for a similar-sized move.

 

Read the full article here.

Read More

G20 Discusses Stimulus, Climate and Aid for Developing Countries

Washington DC – G20 finance ministers met Friday to discuss global coronavirus response. The group endorsed continuing stimulus plans in wealthy countries and supporting plans to increase aid and vaccine access for developing countries.

"If the stimulus plan in the United States moves forward, it translates to about 2 percent in global economic growth," noted the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network, Eric LeCompte. "The G20 is moving forward debt relief, vaccine distribution and accessing global reserve funds for developing countries. The question is will it be enough and can it happen quickly enough."

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed support for a process to deploy global reserve funds (Special Drawing Rights) to help low-income countries. She also highlighted implementation of the G20 debt reduction process agreed last year. The G20 tasked the International Monetary Fund to create a plan for the Special Drawing Rights for upcoming meetings.

“US leadership is pushing G20 actions on debt relief and the Special Drawing Rights,” LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert, added.

Earlier this week, Jubilee USA Network and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a detailed letter to Yellen and President Biden expressing support for debt relief, financial system changes to prevent future crises and a $3 trillion allocation of global reserve funds. Jubilee USA Network with Latin American partner, Latindadd coordinated a letter signed by more than 200 organizations urging the G20 to move forward Special Drawing Rights or global reserve access.

G20 talks also covered global policies to fight climate change and tax avoidance.

“The G20 hopes to agree on a plan by 2021 to curb tax avoidance,” stated LeCompte. "Perhaps the most important aspect of the G20 meeting was to acknowledge that G20 decisions on finance will have some of the most significant impacts on climate change."

G20 finance ministers meet again ahead of the International Monetary Fund meetings in April.

Read the press release from the Italian G20 Presidency here.

Read Secretary Yellen's letter here.

Read the letter from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network here.

Read the press release about the Catholic Bishop and Jubilee USA letter here.

Read the press release and letter from more than 215 groups on Special Drawing Rights to the G20 here.

Read More

International Cooperation Can Fight Corruption and Stop Tax Evasion, Say UN Experts

Report Asserts Trillions Available to Address Poverty, COVID and Climate Change

Washington DC – A UN experts report offers 14 recommendations to stop the loss of trillions in public revenues. The UN group argues that money lost to transnational crime, corruption and tax avoidance could be used to address the pandemic, poverty and climate change.

“The lack of transparency in the financial system impacts the vulnerable and our planet,” stated Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Capturing the trillions in lost revenue is an important way to fight the pandemic and economic crises that countries face.”

The United Nations High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel), includes former heads of state, past central bank governors, business leaders and prominent academics. Report recommendations range from identifying the owners of shell companies to international detections on hiding money and corporate disclosure of what monies are spent in the countries they operate in.

The FACTI Panel proposes a UN tax convention to set international tax and transparency norms as well as a tax dispute settlement system.

“The big lesson of the report, is that more international cooperation is needed to stop corruption, tax evasion and tax avoidance,” said LeCompte who serves on United Nation finance expert groups.

Read More

Treasury Secretary Announces Support for Global Reserve Access, Debt Relief and Tackling Climate Change

Washington DC - In a letter to the G20, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed support for the G20 to determine a process for how global reserve funds (Special Drawing Rights) could be deployed to help low-income countries.

"Yellen's letter is incredibly positive news and signals support for the creation of Special Drawing Rights or reserve funds to support developing countries," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte has pressed the G20 on Special Drawing Rights for the last year. "Secretary Yellen is right that the G20 debt relief process must be implemented in an effective way to deal with the debt burdens of numerous developing countries."

The letter also highlighted the need to implement a debt relief process or the G20 "Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative." Yellen also encouraged the need for countries to tackle climate change.

"The letter from Yellen acknowledges that some of the most consequential decisions regarding climate change will be a part of financial decisions made by the G20," stated LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert. "These climate decisions must be made transparently and out in the open."

The letter comes a day before Yellen is set to meet with other G20 finance ministers. Earlier in the week the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network sent a detailed letter to Yellen and President Biden expressing support for debt relief, financial system changes to prevent future crises and a $3 trillion allocation of the Special Drawing Rights. On Wednesday more than 200 groups wrote the G20 expressing support for Special Drawing Rights.

Read Secretary Yellen's letter here.

Read the letter from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network here.

Read the press release about the Catholic Bishop and Jubilee USA letter here.

Read the press release and letter from more than 215 groups on Special Drawing Rights to the G20 here.

Read More

Devex Features Eric LeCompte on Yellen's Support for SDRs

Devex quotes Eric LeCompte on Yellen's letter to G20. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

In Brief: US Treasury indicates support for SDRs in letter to the G-20

By Adva Saldinger

The likelihood of a new issuance of International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights providing liquidity to low-income countries rose dramatically Thursday as the U.S. signaled its support.

In a letter to members of the G-20 group of nations, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that a new allocation of SDRs could facilitate “much-needed health and economic recovery efforts” for low-income countries and that the U.S. looks forward to “discussing potential modalities for deploying SDRs.”

With the U.S. on board, it seems likely the G-20 will support a new issuance of SDRs. During former President Donald Trump’s administration, U.S. objections were a key hurdle. There seems to be a consensus around an issuance of at least $500 billion, which the Italian presidency of the G-20 supports. But advocates have pushed for much more — $3 trillion — and G-20 leaders are likely to wait for an IMF needs assessment before making their decision, Eric LeCompte, executive director at the Jubilee USA Network, told Devex.
Read the full article here.
Read More

Reuters Quotes Eric LeCompte on Yellen's Support for a New SDR Allocation

Reuters quotes Eric LeCompte on Yellen's support for a new Special Drawing Rights allocation to help poor countries. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

Yellen backs new allocation of IMF's SDR currency to help poor nations

By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday threw her support behind a new allocation of the IMF’s own currency, or Special Drawing Rights, but said broad parameters were needed to boost transparency on how the reserves are used and traded.

Yellen said an SDR allocation and steps to boost low- and zero-interest lending by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank would boost efforts to contain the pandemic and mitigate its devastating impact, particularly in poor countries.

Yellen also encouraged G20 members to use excess SDRs to support recovery efforts in low income countries, along with continued bilateral aid. She said she looked forward to discussing potential modalities for deploying SDRs.

Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, which has coordinated letters backing an allocation, said Yellen’s letter was “incredibly positive news.”

Read the full article here.

 

 

 

Read More