G20 Discusses Preventing Financial Crisis and Small Island Economies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your gift right now means:

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

Your support achieves success. Your contribution wins measurable results.

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

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

So grateful for your partnership,


Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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

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

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

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

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

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We stand with Rumi. We are Thankful.

 

Giving thanks for abundance 

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

- Rumi

Friends,

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

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

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

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

On Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for you.

Wishing you every blessing,



Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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

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

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

Post-disaster tourism, volunteering boost local island economies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Criticize Debt Plans and Negotiations

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

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

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

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

Read the full Puerto Rico religious leader statement in English 

Read the full Puerto Rico religious leader statement in español 

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Puerto Rico Religious Leader Statement on Debt Plan and Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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President Trump: Hurricane Relief Should Not Pay Puerto Rico Debt

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

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

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

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

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Implementing Debt, Tax, Trade and Transparency Policies that Protect the Vulnerable, Promote Development and Address Inequality

Implementing Debt, Tax, Trade and Transparency Policies that Protect the Vulnerable, Promote Development and Address Inequality

The Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

United Nations
Geneva, Switzerland

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA
November 9th, 2018
Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

 

I want to extend my gratitude to all of the organizers of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development and UNCTAD for convening these critical UN meetings. In particular, in light of recent reports from the International Monetary Fund and UNCTAD that warn of another financial crisis, we cannot forget that UNCTAD was one of only a few bodies that foresaw the last global financial crisis of 2008.

As concerns grow that not enough has been done to prevent another financial crisis and we are seeing rising debt vulnerabilities in Africa and throughout the developing world, the timing of these meetings is incredible. I associate my remarks today with the insightful November 7th statement of the Holy See.

In today’s UN forum we are tasked with responding to the following issues: mitigating debt vulnerabilities, utilizing debt financing to promote sustainable development, promoting responsible finance and improving existing policies to resolve debt and financial crisis.

My organization, Jubilee USA Network is well positioned to respond to these issues because of our unique history in creating and supporting policies that successfully resolve unsustainable debts, prevent financial crisis and diminish poverty.

Jubilee USA is part of the broader community of global organizations that coalesced around resolving debt crisis in the poorest countries of the world over 20 years ago. Jubilee USA moves forward global policies that address the root causes of poverty and inequality related to debt, tax, trade and transparency issues. In the United States, Jubilee USA’s founders and members include the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, American Jewish World Service, Islamic Relief, the United Church of Christ and most mainline Christian Churches. Congressional Quarterly cites the work of Jubilee USA as some of the last truly bipartisan efforts in the United States.

In the 1990’s we began our work together to address inequality and finance development by addressing the global debt crisis. Together we won two great debt relief and financing initiatives to address global poverty and promote children’s education and health: The Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). Because of these initiatives, over $115 billion was won in debt relief to benefit some of the world’s poorest countries. Because of that debt relief we know in sub-Saharan Africa that more than 52 million kids went to school who never would have seen the inside of a classroom. We know that school fees were cancelled, hospitals were opened, because of this historic initiative, because of this relief and the international accountability laws that we won, all of this money had to go into building social infrastructure. World Bank President Jim Kim cites debt relief as one of the two reasons we see sustained economic growth in some countries across Africa.

It was out of these initiatives that concepts around achieving debt sustainability were born.

Unfortunately, as successful and important as HIPC and MDRI were, we now realize that those solutions were not enough to entirely address the problem. Out of the 38 very poor countries that benefited from the HIPC and MDRI initiatives, 31 again face debt distress, financial crisis or unsustainable debts. 31 out of 38.

But not only has that crisis impacted and returned to some of the world’s poorest countries, we have also seen it impacting middle-income and even developed countries. From 2009 to 2014, debt service in Africa nearly doubled. While at the same time in the same countries in Africa, we saw spending on health care decline. This year the IMF released a new report acknowledging that serious debt crisis is facing countries across Africa. We are concerned that nearly 20 African countries are showing worrying signs of crisis or impending crisis. We are currently seeing a tragic situation on Small Island Developing States or SIDS across the world, many of these islands with poverty rates that range from 30% to 50%. These so called Middle-Income Small Islands are now facing crisis, just as so-called middle-income countries in Africa are facing similar crises.

These new crises have become more complicated. Debt itself has changed and the instruments of debt have changed. Where 20 years ago, debt was relatively quarantined to a rather small group of lending facilities, international financial institutions, governments and bonds - now we see more complicated instruments and a broader array of types of credit and debt. These concerns are interrelated with the reality that many developing countries across Africa are much more vulnerable to any new global financial crisis.

With this new reality and this lack of debt sustainability there is a small group of exploitative hedge funds that are trying to benefit from countries wrestling with financial crisis. These so called “vulture funds” are responsible for predatory behavior in Detroit, in Greece, in Argentina and were recently stopped in Puerto Rico by an act of the US Congress. So called “vulture funds” buy debt for pennies on the dollar and then sue in full using aggressive litigation tactics to collect the full amount. These types of funds have successfully collected aid monies that were intended to provide development financing in the developing world. Some of the victims of this behavior sit here in this room.

In response to the challenges that “vulture funds” continue to pose, one can not underestimate the leadership of the US Government in two areas. In 2016 Congress and the White House moved into law the first anti-vulture fund legislation from the US Government to protect Puerto Rico from these predatory actors.

Second, we cannot forget how these predatory vulture funds have successfully used some of the nearly 2000 trade Investor-State Dispute Settlement or global ISDS processes to collect on old bad debt. In the new NAFTA negotiations in the United States, Mexico and Canada, we are seeing these processes being severely limited and a final agreement should prevent this small group of hedge funds from exploiting these trade dispute processes.

In 2016 and 2017 the IMF and World Bank reviewed their sustainability framework. This framework offers a lot of valuable information and pulls together much needed analytical data. Debt sustainability frameworks need to be discussed in relation to strengthening global policies on debt restructuring and responsible lending and borrowing. Further debt sustainability analysis could be strengthened by ensuring they take into account issues such as development, improving flexibility to reevaluate after external shocks and reviewing fiscal targets to ensure that tax evasion and corruption are curbed.

We and the religious organizations that we represent and work with around the world, believe very much that debt sustainability works hand in hand with public budget transparency and responsible lending and borrowing. Beyond preventing predatory financial behavior, public budget transparency and responsible lending and borrowing can provide financing of billions of dollars annually for the developing world. Both in the monitoring of debt levels and in the financing for development, these issues cannot be separated from debt sustainability.

These concepts are reiterated in the very promising recent work of the G20 which the US Government and G20 endorsed last summer: the Operational Guidelines for Sustainable Development. We are now in an implementation phase on these efforts. This work compliments the strong consensus building work over the last 7 years with UNCTAD’s efforts on responsible lending and borrowing.

These conservative stewardship policies cost nothing and can raise billions in the developing world.

Further it’s why we support improved debt restructuring at the International Monetary Fund. It is why we supported the United Nations General Assembly process to create a legal global bankruptcy framework. Similar to Chapter 9 or Chapter 11 in the United States, global bankruptcy can provide the same kind of stability we rely on in domestic economies into the global financial system. Pope Francis supports such a system to provide financing to end poverty. Adam Smith the father of modern economics believed global bankruptcy is critical for global stability. We believe that a country’s debt can be called sustainable after the debt is adequately restructured.

Public budget transparency, responsible lending and borrowing and stronger restructuring regimes must be moved forward urgently to prevent or mitigate the next financial crisis.

In terms of issues around development, we must take into account the reality that poor populations and vulnerable communities often do not have their needs met when even “sustainable” debts are paid. There needs to be a greater effort in analyzing the sustainability of a debt when the basic needs and economic rights of people are not met.

Next, external shocks can immediately change the debt dynamics of an economy. Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and so many Caribbean islands were decimated by hurricanes last year. Our partners in Dominica can testify to this reality. It is imperative to move forward proposals that can restructure debt when countries face shocks or natural disasters. We see the success of proposals like this, when debt relief was successfully used as a crisis response tool for the three African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic.

When disaster strikes, when famine spreads and when economic crisis impacts the poor, we need to be able to reevaluate these situations. In line with our previous thoughts on improving debt restructuring and looking at Chapter 9/11 styles of bankruptcy – it seems the Caribbean would be a perfect candidate for a regional Caribbean initiative. This post HIPC initiative, could be a regional initiative with the high debt distress many Caribbean countries are experiencing. It can utilize the principles of bankruptcy for a regional Caribbean mechanism.

Finally, debt sustainability also must rely on improved fiscal policies that curb tax evasion and corruption. Standards must be set that provide targets to governments to curb illicit financial flows, tax evasion, corruption and corporate and professional tax avoidance. We also acknowledge the growing issues around tax evasion, illicit financial flows, anonymous shell companies and corporate tax avoidance. As the President Mbeki report noted, one of the greatest diversions of financing for human needs is because of tax evasion and corruption. Last year the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a study on five countries that showed how much money they were losing because of “trade mis-invoicing.” Currently we believe that 80% of all illicit financial flows are because of trade mis-invoicing at borders and port authorities. This is actually a relatively easy problem to tackle, and this particular problem if tackled could secure more than $1 trillion a year to provide financing and support economic growth in the developing world. Addressing corruption, tax evasion, corporate tax avoidance, anonymous shell companies and related issues should be addressed. When countries fall short on revenue they too often turn to austerity and more borrowing to meet budget demands.

In closing, to promote development and prevent financial crisis we need to promote stronger policies on trade dispute mechanisms, public budget transparency, responsible lending and borrowing, development protections, improved debt restructuring and fiscal policies that curb tax evasion and corruption.

Thank you.

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Lifting Vulnerable Communities: Ensuring Access to Medicines in Trade Agreements and US Policy

Sponsored by Jubilee USA Network

WHAT: During the negotiations for a new "NAFTA," religious organizations issued a statement encouraging that trade agreements ensure access to medicine for vulnerable communities around the world and in the United States. Signers of the statement included the heads of the Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian and United Church of Christ Churches and interfaith development group Jubilee USA. In this panel, experts and representatives from religious institutions will discuss ways to improve NAFTA, enforce bipartisan Congress agreements on trade protections for vulnerable communities and explore policies related to prescription drug costs.

WHO: Reverend Stacy Martin, President and CEO, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska; Anthony Granado, Director, Office of Domestic Social Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Fran Quigley, Clinical Professor of Law, University of Indiana; Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network

WHEN: 4:00 - 4:30 PM Reception and Open Bar
4:30 - 5:30 PM Speeches
5:30 PM Reception
November 7, 2018

WHERE: US Congress Rayburn House Office Building
House Small Business Committee Hearing Room 2361
Washington, DC

Business Attire. This is a "widely attended" event for Congressional Staff.

To RSVP please contact Iuliia Ponomareva at [email protected] or call (202) 783-3566 x100.

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Elections, NAFTA, Puerto Rico - Act, Pray - Jubilee Weekend

Friends,

With mid-term elections upon us, we head to the ballot box as too many people suffer. We know how important voting, praying and acting is to address inequality and to ease suffering.

Soon after the elections, Congress could vote on a new "NAFTA" deal that impacts inequality, global debt policies and whether or not poor people can access life-saving medicine. Before a new Congress comes to Washington, the current White House and Congress needs to hear from us - before they act.

We need your faith community to pray with us the weekend of November 16th through 18th and to endorse our interfaith statement on trade, debt and access to medicines.

Here are two ways to join us:

1.) Sign-up your faith community to offer one prayer during your religious service the weekend of November 16th - 18th. Join Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other faith communities as we pray that trade agreements protect the vulnerable. When you sign up we will send you sample prayers and petitions to sign at your congregation.

2.) Please have your faith community endorse the interfaith trade statement that national religious leaders are signing. We will be sending your endorsements to the White House and Congress before they vote on a new NAFTA deal.

Over the last 7 years, Jubilee USA raised concerns on how trade agreements are used to favor predatory or "vulture" funds to collect on old debt. In Peru, a hedge fund is trying to use a trade agreement process to collect on old military dictatorship debt. 

Because of our efforts together, the new "NAFTA" deal could severely limit these predatory actors from using trade processes to take advantage of vulnerable populations. 

At Jubilee USA's core, we work on economic policies to ensure that resources get to the most vulnerable communities. It's why for years we've worked with and organized our national faith partners to promote trade agreements that ensure that vulnerable communities can access life-saving medicine. We still have a lot of work to win strong protections for vulnerable communities in a new NAFTA deal. It's why we need your faith community to endorse the interfaith statement and join Jubilee Weekend.

Already the leaders of the Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal and United Church of Christ Churches signed our Jubilee trade statement. Please have your faith community endorse the statement too.

Please join us and sign-up to offer one prayer during Jubilee Weekend and have your faith community endorse the interfaith statement.

After the elections, our strategic campaigns on trade, transparency, debt relief and lifting Puerto Rico can continue to achieve results. 

As your faith community offers a prayer for Jubilee November 16th-18th, we are also mindful of last year's hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Barbuda and Dominica. We expect additional votes on Puerto Rico relief as the island enters a new phase of debt negotiations and debt traps. Before the end of the year, we will also need to do more to make sure that Congress and the White House act for Puerto Rico.

Gratefully,

Eric

Eric LeCompte 
Executive Director
Twitter: @Eric_LeCompte

 

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