IMF Provides Emergency Food Crisis Loans

Washington DC – The IMF launches the Food Shock Window to aid countries facing food shortages by expanding access to rapid, low-interest loans. The number of people facing food shortages rose by more than 200 million since the pandemic.

“All over the world people are struggling with food shortages because of the pandemic, the Ukraine war and soaring prices spurred by inflation,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA. "The IMF's action helps countries wrestling with food crises."

In 45 countries, 50 million people are on the verge of famine, the World Food Programme reported.

“The growing global food crisis can push countries into social unrest and instability,” added LeCompte. “While the Food Shock Window helps, it is only buying time. More loans as many countries struggle to pay debts is not a long-term answer."

Sixty per cent of the poorest countries and 30 per cent of developing middle-income ones are at risk of debt crises. 

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

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Hurricane Fiona Damage Adds to Puerto Rico Aid Needs, Debt Woes

Washington DC  Hurricane Fiona caused floods and cut power across Puerto Rico as more than 2 feet of rain fell on the island. The category 1 storm - which strengthened to category 3 after hitting the island - comes five years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma led to 3,000 deaths and more than $100 billion in damages. Since then, Congress allocated $55 billion in disaster aid. The aid is still not fully disbursed and deployed. Additional recovery needs for Hurricanes Maria and Irma are estimated at $50 billion.  

“Fiona is the latest disaster to hit Puerto Rico,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. Jubilee USA Network has worked on debt and disaster relief efforts for the island since 2015. “Puerto Rico will need more aid to address the damages from Hurricane Fiona, the island's child poverty crisis and recovery from previous disasters."

In March, Puerto Rico concluded a bankruptcy process that took over four years and yielded cuts of about 50% of the island's $72 billion debt. In a statement, 26 Puerto Rico and US religious leaders welcomed the agreement but laid out a comprehensive economic agenda needed to prevent future debt crises. The plan includes building quality and sustainable infrastructure.

“Storms will continue to strike Puerto Rico and the electricity grid must be repaired to withstand future storms," stated LeCompte. "While debt relief for Puerto Rico is helpful, not enough debt was cut for Puerto Rico to be prepared for situations like Hurricane Fiona."

The religious leaders’ Puerto Rico plan calls for expanding manufacturing jobs, increasing disaster relief and winning the same funding as US states receive for nutrition, child poverty, health, disability and tax relief programs.

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

Read Jubilee USA's Press Release on US and Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Statement here.

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

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Religious Leaders: New York Debt Bill Helps Solve Economic Crises in Developing Countries

New York and US Taxpayers, Global Economy Benefit from Legislation

Washington DC – Religious and labor leaders explained that New York laws can provide debt relief for countries struggling from the pandemic and shocks from the Ukraine war. Speaking at a press conference in the New York State Capitol Building, they expressed support for legislation introduced by Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, Chair of the Banks Committee.

“New York is the world’s global financial hub — positioning us well to enact basic changes that will ensure debt relief for developing nations through investments in sustainable growth, infrastructure and more,” said Fahy. “Not only will this legislation protect U.S. taxpayers, it will spur new development and growth within the global economy, reduce stress on international supply chains, and establish clear strategies for growth in nations burdened by massive amounts of debt.”

The New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act (A. 10595) ensures private creditors participate in debt relief initiatives at the same level as the US government, other governments and other creditors. Over 50% of the world's debt held by private creditors is contracted under New York State law.

“The pandemic pushed many developing countries into debt and economic crises,” stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network. “Countries can get help resolving debt crises under New York law and the new legislation ensures countries get the relief they need. Because we trade with these countries, resolving debt crises helps resolve supply and economic shocks that we face at home.”

At 7:00 PM ET, Jubilee USA Network hosts a panel discussion featuring Fahy and LeCompte. Speakers include, Rabbi Matthew Cutler, Congregation Gates of Heaven Synagogue; Rev. Dustin Longmire, Messiah Lutheran Church of Schenectady, New York, and former President of the New York Council of Churches; Rev. Nicolle D. Jean-Simon, Pastor of Duryee Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and NAACP President of Schenectady Branch #2175; Rev. Dr. Amaury Tanon-Santos, Executive Director of Schenectady Community Ministries and President of the Labor Religion Coalition of NY State; and Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.

Watch livestream event “Funding Food, Vaccines and the Environment in Developing Nations,” at 7:00 PM ET.

Read NYS Assemblymember Patricia Fahy’s Office Press Release here.

View the NY Taxpayer and International Debt Crisis Protection Act and Bill Memo here.

Read a previous Jubilee USA press release on the bill here.

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

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Executive Director Eric LeCompte Speaks with Madison Public Radio on Student Debt Cancellation

Eric speaks with WORT 89.9 a Madison, WI public radio on student debt cancellation. Hear the full interview here

LeCompte: How Student Debt Cancellation Affects Communities

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Annual Federal Reserve Wyoming Meeting Hosts Central Bank Heads to Improve Global Economy

Inflation, Recession and Developing Country Debt Top Agenda of Jackson Hole Meeting

Washington DC – The future of interest rates and the threat of stagflation – a phenomenon where the economy and jobs shrink while inflation rises -- dominate the agenda at a three-day global central bank retreat starting on Thursday. This year’s traditional Jackson Hole, Wyoming symposium gathers the US Federal Reserve and other world central banks under the theme "Reassessing Constraints on the Economy and Policy."

“The meeting is focused on trying to tame inflation without causing more harm for developing countries in crisis,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the development group Jubilee USA Network. “We are reminded by the challenging decisions world leaders faced with the economy in the 1970s. At this point with greater threats to the global economy, we are in uncharted waters."

The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates more than two percentage points since the beginning of the year and consumer prices rose the fastest in four decades. The combination of interest rate increases and a strong dollar raises debt levels in developing countries. In July the IMF reported that debt in 60 percent of the poorest countries and 30 percent of emerging middle-income economies reached critically-high levels.

“While lowering inflation is important, we need to keep in mind the global impacts of increased debt, food crises and supply shocks that can undermine the economic stability we hoped to achieve through lower inflation,” shared LeCompte.

On Friday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell addresses the Jackson Hole meeting.

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

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Biden Cancels Student Debts and Extends Loan Payment Suspension

Washington DC – The Biden Administration announced plans to cancel $10,000 in student debt for borrowers earning under $125,000 a year. Borrowers who received a college federal Pell grant, given to students that have the greatest need, qualify for up to $20,000 in student debt relief. The White House action extended a freeze on student loan payments that President Trump initiated in 2020 as part of pandemic relief. This is the fifth time President Biden continued the moratorium on student debt payments.

“President Biden’s historical student debt cancellation is a bold step that goes beyond previous support and will help vulnerable communities,“ said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of religious group Jubilee USA Network. LeCompte's organization advocated for the student relief measures with the Biden and Trump White House. “Soaring food and gas prices are putting more pressure on vulnerable communities still reeling from the pandemic.”  

Jubilee USA mobilized thousands of messages to Congress and the Trump and Biden White Houses urging student debt relief to help confront the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus.

“While the student loan forgiveness helps those hit by the pandemic and inflation, more student debt relief will be needed,” added LeCompte. 

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

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Jubilee USA Network Statement on G20 Finance Ministers Meeting

Washington DC – The G20 finance ministers concluded their meetings in Bali, Indonesia. The ministers focused on the global economy impacted by the pandemic, Ukraine war, high country debt levels and rising inflation. 

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert who tracked or participated in G20 meetings since 2010, releases the following statement on the G20 finance ministers meeting:

“The lack of a G20 finance ministers communiqué means it will be more difficult for the G20 to forge a consensus on vital issues in the fall.

"Tensions over Russia's war in Ukraine translated to the G20 failing to take more action on inflation, food shortages and pandemic response.

“Internal divisions hinder the G20’s ability to act decisively and leaves the world in uncharted waters.

“Countries lack the resources to deal with food shortages and we are concerned that the food shortages can lead to unrest.

“As more countries risk defaulting on their loans, we face more threats for stability of the global economy.

“We are waiting for the G20's debt reduction framework to be running so developing countries can receive relief to address food shortages and respond to the pandemic.

“A critical part of the G20 meetings was reviewing proposals that can increase development bank lending by hundreds of billions.

“Getting more resources to development banks would be a significant step to prevent future pandemics and food crises."

Read Jubilee USA's press release about the meetings here.  
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G20 Finance Ministers Meeting Focuses on Response to Global Economic Crises

Washington DC  On Friday, G20 finance ministers descend on Bali, Indonesia, to discuss a global economy impacted by the pandemic, Ukraine war, high country debt levels and rising inflation. Food shortages, climate and tax issues will also be on the agenda at the two-day talks.

“Developing countries lack the resources to confront economic crises and food shortages,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “The G20 must act quickly to prevent a recession and address food and debt crises."

The World Bank warns that due to the impacts of the pandemic and the Ukraine war, average incomes in 40% of developing countries will remain below 2019 levels.

"Rising interest rates mean developing countries have higher debt payments just when they need to invest more to protect their people,” added LeCompte. “Countries need debt relief, not more debt."

Three countries applied to a G20 debt reduction process created in 2020 and have yet to see any debt relief.

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

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G7 Summit Focuses on Global Crisis Response, Ukraine War, Food Security and Climate

Leaders Urge Debt Relief for Developing Countries

African Religious Groups Call on G7 to Address Poverty

Washington DC  In a concluding statement of the G7 Summit in the Bavarian Alps, the group addressed the global economy, the COVID crisis, the Ukraine war, climate, debt and vaccines. Presidents and prime ministers of the G7 highlighted the urgency to improve debt relief frameworks and address debt vulnerabilities. 

"Debt relief is critical as developing countries struggle with the pandemic and food shortages due to the Ukraine war," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network. “The G7 noted the importance for China and the private sector to participate in debt relief processes so developing countries can withstand current crises."

Up to 73 of the world’s poorest countries can seek debt relief through a G20 process. To date, Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia applied for the debt relief framework. 

"The G20 debt relief process needs to be implemented more quickly," stated LeCompte. "We need the process expanded to cover other countries in need like Sri Lanka."

In May, the New York State Assembly began consideration of a bill that requires private creditors, which hold the majority of developing country debt, to join in relief deals. The legislation would apply to the more than 50% of the world's private debt contracts because they are issued under New York law.

“Legislation adopted by G7 countries can ensure the private sector and commercial banks participate in debt relief,” added LeCompte.

In a statement addressed to G7 leaders, the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Catholic Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) warned about the deteriorating debt situation on the continent.

“Worsening global conditions and rising interest rates will push more African countries to make impossible choices between saving lives and jobs or paying creditors,” stated Bishop Sithembele Siphuka, First Vice-President of SECAM and Commission Chair.

The G7 launched an infrastructure plan that plans to tackle developing countries taking on too much debt. Pledging $600 billion in developing country infrastructure by 2027, the terms and quality of projects under the Global Partnership for Infrastructure and Investment seek to keep debt levels in check.

"The G7 plan to invest in countries from Angola to the Ivory Coast means less debt and positive economic returns for developed and developing countries,” shared LeCompte. "The G7's investment in sustainable infrastructure is good news for developing countries."

Leaders focused on the global food crisis pledging an additional $4.5 billion to protect the vulnerable from hunger and malnutrition. The war in Ukraine worsened food shortages and more than 193 million people face hunger.

On climate, the G7 announced the creation of a “Climate Club." The club or group of countries would focus on actions to meet climate goals. The G7 renewed pledges to deliver $100 billion in annual funds to address climate change through 2025.

"The Ukraine war, pandemic and climate crisis are a triple threat that developing countries don't have the resources to combat,” expressed LeCompte.

Read the full G7 communiqué here

Read the African Catholic Bishops' statement to G7 leaders here.

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act here.

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the G7 finance ministers meeting here.

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G7 Summit Focuses on Ukraine War, Pandemic, Climate, Vaccines and Debt

Gathering in Bavarian Alps, President Biden and G7 Prime Ministers Confront Global Inflation, Food Security and Economic Crises

Washington DC  On Sunday, G7 presidents and prime ministers begin their three-day summit under the German Presidency. Meeting at the Schloss Elmau resort, the leaders deliberate on the pandemic, Ukraine war, food shortages, vaccines and climate issues.

“We are dealing with crisis on top of global crisis,” shared Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network and a United Nations finance expert. “Most countries were struggling to get through the pandemic and couldn't confront the challenges of climate change. Now the Ukraine war is creating a growing food crisis for many of those same countries.”

In a petition to G7 leaders, more than 50 African religious leaders asked for relief measures for the continent struggling with food, climate and health crises. Jubilee USA worked with religious leaders in Africa on the statement. Signers of the statement include Bishops and representatives from the Catholic Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, Caritas Africa, the Church of Pentecost in Ghana and the All Africa Conference of ChurchesIn addition to other measures, the religious leaders requested “debt relief initiatives for African countries, and . . . measures, including domestic legislation, to compel full public and private creditor participation and transparency.”

Legislation currently before New York State lawmakers requires private creditors to provide debt relief at the same level that governments and public institutions provide to struggling countries. More than 60% of developing country debt is in private sector hands.

“Inflation, economic shocks and food shortages are all tied to the debt crises developing countries are facing,” stated LeCompte. “The single most meaningful commitment the G7 could make is to support legislation in G7 countries that ensures private and commercial lenders contribute to debt relief."

While debt and inflation will be key focuses of the upcoming meetings, leaders are set to endorse a global initiative for food security and a plan to address climate change.

“G7 countries hold about $400 billion in emergency pandemic currency that could be given to development banks and used to tackle climate and food challenges,” noted LeCompte.

The International Monetary Fund created $650 billion in emergency currency known as Special Drawing Rights for coronavirus relief last year. The majority of these funds were received by developed countries who can donate the funds to developing countries. Several of these wealthy countries pledged $60 billion of their Special Drawing Rights to fund IMF cheap loans to developing countries.

Read the African religious leaders' petition to G7 leaders here

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act here

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the G7 finance ministers meeting here.

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

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World Trade Organization Vaccine Decision Won't Do Enough to Address the Pandemic in Developing Countries, Says Development Group

Washington DC – Ministers of World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries agreed on a limited waiver of COVID-19 vaccine patents to help developing countries acquire coronavirus vaccines.

For countries struggling to protect their people against continued COVID outbreaks, this decision won't do enough," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. “After more than two years of a pandemic that cost millions of lives, developing countries need a suspension of multiple WTO rules in order to boost access to vaccines, tests and treatments."

Meeting for the first time since 2017, the WTO Ministerial lasted an additional day due to difficulties in achieving a consensus. In certain circumstances, the new decision allows developing countries to make vaccines without having to seek the vaccine patent owner’s approval. Development groups argue that similar vaccine approvals already largely exist, in WTO rules before this deal. 

The International Monetary Fund estimates that more than 100 countries will fail to reach vaccination targets to contain the pandemic globally. WTO members agreed to negotiate possible extensions of the waiver for tests and treatments within six months.

“Tests and treatments should have been part of the same package," added LeCompte. "Access to tests, treatments and vaccines is essential to limit the threat of new and deadlier mutations that can affect all of us.” 

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

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