Major Religious Institutions Urge President, IMF and G20 to Cancel Debts and Use Reserves to Protect Poor

Washington DC - Many of the largest religious institutions are calling for financial crisis protections, debt relief and additional resources to protect the world's poor in what the IMF calls the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The 80 groups joined a letter organized by Jubilee USA Network to confront the coronavirus crisis and it was delivered to the White House, G20 and IMF on Tuesday.

Signers include: The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Jubilee USA Network, American Friends Service Committee, Church World Service, Buddhist Association of the United States and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The largest labor union in the United States, the AFL-CIO joined the Jubilee USA letter.

The signers join calls from Pope Francis, the US Catholic Bishops and 165 world leaders encouraging additional resources, aid and debt relief to ensure all countries can withstand the crisis.

"Religious institutions and their partners are making a moral call for all people on the planet to be able to have enough resources to weather the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. There is already momentum behind debt relief and emergency financing," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte is a United Nations finance expert and has monitored IMF meetings since 2008. "We are urgently calling on the G20 and IMF to access global reserve funds so that both developed and developing countries can get through the greatest financial crisis of our time. We need to use the special drawing rights or SDRs like we did after the 2008 crisis."

"Special drawing rights," debt relief and additional emergency financing are the issues that the G7, G20, IMF and World Bank are focusing on during virtual spring meetings this week. On Tuesday, the IMF released a report dubbing the "Great Lockdown" as the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The US Treasury released a statement Tuesday after a virtual meeting with G7 leaders expressing support for the world's 76 poorest countries to stop debt payments to provide health services in the developing world.

On Monday, the IMF announced it would cancel 6 months of debt payments for 25 poor countries in an effort to boost their health systems and economies.

"Urgent and bold actions are needed now if we are to survive the greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetimes," said LeCompte.

Read Religious Leader's Letter the President Trump, IMF and G20 here

Read about the April 2020 World Economic Outlook here

Read about the IMF's Debt Relief for 25 Poor Countries here

Read about the Catholic Bishops Letter to Urge President Trump to Lead Global COVID-19 Debt Relief 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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U.S. News and World Report Quotes Eric LeCompte on IMF Economic Outlook

U.S. News and World Report quotes Eric LeCompte of the IMF economic forecast in light of the coronavirus. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

IMF Predicts Global Coronavirus Crisis Akin to the Great Depression

"This is the most frightening news the Fund has ever released on the status of our global economy," Eric LeCompte, executive director of the Jubilee USA coalition, said in a statement on Tuesday. "When you analyze what the IMF is actually saying, the message is things could get even worse, and they really don't know how bad it can actually get."

 

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Reuters, New York Times Covers Jubilee USA, Religious Groups Letter to White House, IMF

Thomson Reuters, The New York Times and hundreds of other outlets covered Jubilee USA's letter to the White House and IMF urging debt relief for poor countries to help bolster their coronavirus response efforts. Read more here

Faith groups, AFL-CIO urge U.S., IMF, G20 to cancel debt for poor countries

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Voice of America Cites Eric LeCompte on Global Economic Crisis

Voice of America cites Eric LeCompte of IMF debt relief plan in response to the global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

IMF Announces Debt Relief for African Nations to Fight Pandemic  

Eric LeCompte, executive director of the Jubilee USA Network, a coalition of religious organizations that works for international finance system reform, says the plan will provide much-needed relief to countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger and Rwanda.

He spoke to VOA from Washington, via WhatsApp.  

“When we're dealing with the reality that on average, countries across sub-Saharan Africa have an average of 50 critical care units, we know that they're not going to be able to deal with minor elements of the crisis, let alone more significant ones," he said. "In part, that's why we saw all the finance ministers across Africa, almost three weeks ago now, step up and say we need to be able to stop paying debts for all African countries, making a call to stop and suspend debt payments for $44 billion because they knew that was money that could be quickly invested, moved very quickly into economies to be able to get the ventilators, to be able to increase health systems so that they might be able to combat the virus.” 


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IMF Calls "Great Lockdown" Worst Economic Crisis Since the Great Depression

Washington DC - The IMF says we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression because of the coronavirus. As world leaders gather virtually for the Spring International Monetary Fund and World Bank Meetings, the Fund released its April World Economic Outlook Report, dubbing the crisis, the "Great Lockdown" and reporting that the global economy will lose at least $9 trillion in 2020 and 2021.  

"This is the most frightening news the Fund has ever released on the status of our global economy," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte, who tracked IMF meetings and reports since the 2008 financial crisis. LeCompte's organization detailed a financial crisis plan to the IMF on March 23rd. "When you analyze what the IMF is actually saying, the message is things could even get worse and they really don't know how bad it can actually get."

The IMF report forecasts that if "lockdowns" and the spread of the virus becomes more limited in the Fall, we could see economic growth for some countries in 2021. However, those growth projections would already be below previous IMF 2021 growth projections.

The IMF report forecasts the economy will contract 3% in 2020 before coronavirus containment policies can be gradually loosened, with economic growth of 5.8% predicted as the economy stabilizes.

Over the next three days, the G7, G20, IMF and World Bank will meet to determine solutions to deal with the growing crisis.

"Urgent action is required by the IMF and G20 this week," stated LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert. "During the meetings this week world leaders must move forward aid, financing and debt relief for developed and developing countries so people can survive the devastating health and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis."

Read the April 2020 World Economic Outlook here

Read about the IMF's Debt Relief for 25 Poor Countries here

Read about the Catholic Bishops Letter to Urge President Trump to Lead Global COVID-19 Debt Relief 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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As Coronavirus Spreads, IMF Cancels 6 Months of Debt for Poorest Countries

Washington DC -  The board of the International Monetary Fund approved $500 million through the IMF Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to cancel 6 months of debt service for Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, D.R., The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo and Yemen.

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations Finance Expert, releases the following statement on the announcement:

"This is an incredibly positive step. These countries need to bolster their health systems right away and cancellation of debt for 6 months will help these countries.

"Many of these countries have less than 50 critical care unit beds per country.

"All of the countries could benefit from more than just a 6-month debt cancellation. As the poorest countries in the world, they really need full cancellation.

"While we encourage more countries to donate money to this IMF trust, the IMF also needs to use its own resources.

"When this trust was used previously, the IMF sold gold in its reserve. Currently, there is $140 billion in this reserve and even selling ten billion could get us closer for debt cancellation for these countries and others.

"We worked on this mechanism since 2010 and every time it's been used, it's been critical for protecting some of the world's poorest people.

"What strikes me most is that the four countries who previously received grants and debt relief from this trust are benefiting from it again. Haiti, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are again receiving this critical relief and this says something about lending and the fragility of some of the world's poorest countries. Out of this current crisis we need to find ways to move these countries out of poverty and on a permanent path to prosperity."

Read the IMF's Release on the Debt Relief 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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Eric LeCompte Quoted in Reuters on IMF Chief's Leadership

Thomson Reuters, Yahoo!News and thousands of other outlets included Eric LeCompte's thoughts on IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva's leadership as the Fund responds to the coronavirus and its effects. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

'Force of nature' Georgieva leads IMF through coronavirus storm

Her connections to another powerful global force, the Vatican, helped her defuse a looming crisis with Argentina after the 2019 election of a government that campaigned against the IMF. Georgieva and Argentine Finance Minister Martin Guzman paved the way for better relations during a during a February conference hosted by Pope Francis, according to Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, a nonprofit financial reform organization, who also attended.

"It's a blessing that we have someone with a development background at the helm of the IMF. I believe that's why we're seeing quick movement on some fairly bold proposals to save us from a financial crisis or another Great Depression," he said.

When G20 finance officials refused to classify the coronavirus outbreak as a major risk factor in February, Georgieva published the IMF's own, dire, outlook.

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Reuters Quotes Eric LeCompte on IMF Debt Relief

Reuters quoted Eric LeCompte on the IMF announcement of debt relief for poor countries affected by the coronavirus. The story was covered in thousands of outlets around the world, including PBS, Voice of America, MarketWatch and WTOP news. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

IMF to provide debt relief to help 25 countries deal with pandemic

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Eric LeCompte's Thoughts in New York Times on IMF Debt Freeze

The New York Times featured the IMF's decision to halt debt payments for 25 poor countries affected by the coronavirus. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

IMF Cancels Debt Payments for 6 Months for 25 Poor Nations

Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of more than 75 U.S. organizations and 700 faith communities working for debt relief, called the IMF announcement “an incredibly positive step.”

“Many of these countries have less than 50 critical care unit beds per country,” LeCompte said in a statement. “These countries need to bolster their health systems right away and cancellation of debt for six months will help these countries.”

But LeCompte said more needs to be done.

“As the poorest countries in the world, they really need full cancellation” of their debts, he said.

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Eric LeCompte Quoted by Common Dreams on Coronavirus Relief

Common Dreams quoted Eric LeCompte on the call for debt relief in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

Ilhan Omar Joins Global Call for Debt Relief as Coronavirus Threatens to Push Developing Nations 'Over the Edge'

Last week, Bishop David J. Malloy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Eric LeCompte of the interfaith Jubilee USA Network called on U.S. President Donald Trump to lead the G20 in granting developing nations debt relief so they can better respond to the healthcare and economic consequences of the ongoing pandemic.

"As the G20 considers a suspension of debt payments from the 76 poorest countries in the world, the United States can lead the world, again, in calling on wealthy countries, the G20, the IMF and World Bank, to suspend debt payments for developing countries," wrote Malloy and LeCompte. "Suspending debt payments, with no interest, can immediately allow countries to access funds to bolster their health systems and support needed stimulus packages in the developing world—allowing these countries to provide for their own health, safety, and security."

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Between the Lines Interviews Eric LeCompte on Debt Freezes from IMF and G20

Between the lines interviewed Eric LeCompte on the IMF and G20 decisions to halt debt payments for some poor countries affected by the coronavirus. Read an summary below, and click here for the full story. 

Amid Pandemic IMF & G20 Called on to Cancel Poorest Nations’ Unsustainable Debt

Eric LeCompte discusses plans he’s proposed to Pope Francis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20 group of nations re: the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need to cancel debt payments for the 76 poorest countries in the world and provide aid for countries that need it.

Listen to full interview here

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The Nation Covers Jubilee, Catholic Bishops Call for Debt Relief

The Nation featured Eric LeCompte's thoughts and a joint letter from Jubilee USA and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to President Trump urging the Administration to use debt relief as a response to the coronavirus crisis for the poorest countries. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story. 

A ‘Jubilee’ Cancellation of Debt Is Vital to Fighting the Coronavirus

There are similar concerns for a number of developing nations in Africa, as Jubilee USA’s Director Eric LeCompte explains: “Developing countries are unprepared to deal with the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus. Most of Africa only has about 50 critical care beds per country. Without action, tens of thousands of people will die because they can’t access life saving health services.”

In an urgent April 8 letter to President Trump, LeCompte, and Bishop David J. Malloy, the chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, pleaded with the president to put the United States on the right side of this fight when the G20 nations consult over the next week:

As the G20 considers a suspension of debt payments from the 76 poorest countries in the world, the United States can lead the world, again, in calling on wealthy countries, the G20, the IMF and World Bank, to suspend debt payments for developing countries. Suspending debt payments, with no interest, can immediately allow countries to access funds to bolster their health systems and support needed stimulus packages in the developing world—allowing these countries to provide for their own health safety and security.

Read more here
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