Stimulus Plan Negotiations Turn to Student Debt

Washington DC - Student debt relief is now included in round the clock stimulus package negotiations on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, President Trump indicated that student debt relief measures passed in the Spring could be extended in the final Congressional package.

"During a crisis that rivals the Great Depression, the government can help 45 million Americans holding student debt," stated Eric LeCompte who directs the religious debt relief group Jubilee USA. "At minimum, Congress must extend debt payment relief through the end of the year. We'll need more relief, but this stimulus package should extend the debt payment moratorium."

On September 30th, the student debt payment suspension that Congress passed as part of the CARES Act stimulus package in the Spring, expires. The Act put in place 0% interest rates and stopped federal collection of student loans. More than 92% of all student loans are federal loans and top 1.5 trillion dollars of debt.

"We really need to start working on extending student debt relief through 2021, create debt cancellation processes for those struggling most and make sure the class of 2020 can also be included in debt relief measures," noted LeCompte whose organization leads campaigns to keep interest rates low on certain types of federal student loans. "While it's less than 8% of total student debt, it's critical that Congress also brings private sector student loans to the debt relief table too."

Private student debt amounts to $124.65 billion. The House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act stimulus package in May that included $10,000 of debt forgiveness for either federal or private student debt for borrowers deeply impacted by the crisis. The initial $1 trillion HEALS Act introduced by Senate Republicans this week did not include student debt relief measures.

"Currently, student loans are not addressed in a bankruptcy proceeding. Congress should extend bankruptcy protection to include student debt," said LeCompte.

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Stimulus Plan Must Include Puerto Rico Say Major Religious Leaders

Washington DC - Religious leaders representing over 95% of Puerto Rico's population wrote Congress urging that the island be included in the next stimulus plan. Job creation, disaster relief and protections for the vulnerable were lifted in a letter signed by leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Christian (Disciples) and Evangelical Churches. The Puerto Rico Council of Churches, Catholic Charities (Caritas) and the General Bible Society also added their names to the letter to Congress.

"Nearly 60% of our children, US citizens, live in poverty in Puerto Rico. Our children are in vital need of Congressional action," wrote the religious leaders who included Roberto González, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Juan and Evangelical leader, Heriberto Martínez. "We encourage Congress to immediately implement measures to return manufacturing jobs to Puerto Rico, by adopting legislation that encourages pharmaceuticals to spur economic recovery and job creation in areas of high unemployment and poverty," the religious leader letter to Congress continued.

In the mid-2000s, Congress did not renew incentives for pharmaceutical jobs in Puerto Rico and tens of thousands of jobs were lost. In the letter to Congress, the religious leaders urged measures to restore these jobs and argued that Puerto Rico has skilled labor and capacity to help meet production needs for personal protective equipment and other supplies to confront COVID-19.

In 2015, Puerto Rico's religious leaders were the first to raise the alarm on the island's debt crisis and noted the loss of pharmaceutical jobs, in part, led to the crisis. Later, the leaders continually met with the White House and Congress leadership to move forward child poverty reduction and disaster and debt relief efforts.

The communication to Congress from the faith leaders comes as food benefits expire this week. Some funding for Puerto Rico's Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP) expires on July 31st and leaves 190,000 vulnerable people without food access benefits. In the age of COVID-19 and continuing natural disasters in Puerto Rico, the NAP program supports 1.5 million people or half of the current population.

"We are dealing with a crisis like no other and Puerto Rico should be included in the stimulus plan," said Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who advises Puerto Rico's religious leaders. "Congress can take action that benefits Puerto Rico's people and the fight against the coronavirus."

With supply chains for pharmaceutical coronavirus products stressed in the US, the religious leaders argue that production in Puerto Rico is a critical part of the solution.

The letter was signed by Felipe Lozada Montañez the President of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches and Emeritus Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Miguel A. Morales Castro the General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Héctor F. Ortiz Vidal the Bishop of the Methodist Church, Reverend Enrique Camacho the Executive Director of Cáritas (Catholic Charities), Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera the General Secretary of the Puerto Rico Bible Society, Roberto O. González Nieves the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico, Rubén González Medina the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ponce, Esteban González Dobles the former General Pastor of the Christian Church and Rafael Moreno Rivas the Emeritus Bishop of the Methodist Church.

Read the Puerto Rico stimulus religious leader letter to Congress here.

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We Won. Stimulus Debt Relief Happening Now

Thanks to your work for the last decade and generating tens of thousands of messages to Congress over the last year, Jubilee's Corporate Transparency Amendment passed the House. Your phone calls this week made a big difference. Now - during the Fall our transparency legislation to protect debt relief and prevent human trafficking can be negotiated in a final package with the Senate.

Today - I urgently write you as we enter final stimulus negotiations on global debt relief. With the support of the White House, all of the debt relief initiatives for the world's poorest 73 countries in April we won from the G20 and IMF - must now be ratified by Congress. Further, Congress can move forward debt cancellation and critical transparency initiatives.

Please call both of your Senators now. Tell them to support White House and Treasury plans to suspend debt payments for the world's poorest countries. Tell your Senators to support initiatives to cancel debt and increase transparency in debt relief measures. Tell them to support bipartisan efforts to help developing countries address the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Together, in April we won 6 months of debt cancellation for the 25 poorest countries. We moved forward a new process to suspend debt payments for the 73 poorest countries. As these countries all face growing infection rates and famine because of COVID-19, some of these countries have zero critical care units for their population. The lucky ones may have 50 to support millions of people.

Already, for countries that count their budgets in the tens of millions - $6 billion dollars in debt relief has been generated. It's possible as our plans move forward we can generate more than $20 billion.

But Congress must act and must include these debt relief provisions in the Stimulus and encourage permanent reductions of debt. Congress should include broader international development assistance. Stimulus negotiations on our plans continue through the weekend and the Capitol Switch board is open 24/7 so you can leave a critical message for your Senators when you receive this message.

Congressional Quarterly cites Jubilee USA's work as the last standing bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill. Together, we moved the White House. Now, we must move the Senate to include and increase our debt relief and debt cancellation efforts for developing countries so they can survive a pandemic that is taking lives and destroying livelihoods.

In addition to securing global debt relief and development aid in this stimulus package, we are also focused on measures to aid the 3 million people suffering in Puerto Rico and move forward student debt relief.

Please call both of your Senators now. Please keep calling through this weekend until we secure these critical Jubilee provisions.

We are so grateful for your support and partnership.

Best,

Eric

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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

 

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G20 Waits for Fall Meetings for Coronavirus Crisis Decisions

Washington DC - On Saturday, G20 Finance Ministers met virtually on the global health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. A communiqué issued by the Ministers pushed decisions on the crisis to later in the year.

"Decisions on further debt payment suspensions, permanent reductions of debt, trillions of dollars of needed aid and extending debt relief to more struggling countries will be left for meetings later this year," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who monitors the G20. "We had hoped the debt payment suspension for the world's poorest countries would be continued into 2021 given the severity of the crisis."

In April the G20 approved a plan for 73 developing countries to suspend debt payments to G20 countries. 42 countries applied for the program that offers debt relief until the end of 2020.

"The G20 Finance Ministers offered stronger language on private sector participation in debt relief initiatives for poor countries," said LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. "This is important as some private sector creditors are resisting the debt relief process."

Jubilee USA organized a letter, signed by hundreds of organizations, to the G20 Finance Ministers ahead of their meeting calling for action in the face of the coronavirus crisis. The letter recommended expanded debt relief, more aid for developing countries, processes to curb tax evasion and corruption and enacting market and financial crisis protections. The letter was signed by more than 200 groups and included some of the largest religious, labor, human rights, development and environmental institutions.

In the Fall, the United Nations General Assembly meets. However the next round of decisions on coronavirus health and economic solutions most likely will take place at October IMF and World Bank meetings and November G20 meetings.

"The G20 wants to see more aid and financing options to consider from the IMF in the Fall. This is an allusion to accessing global reserve funds or what's known as the Special Drawing Rights," said LeCompte. "The Finance Ministers also emphasized again a strong commitment to moving forward global anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws."

Read the G20 Finance Minister Communiqué here.

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the G20 letter from hundreds of Religious, Labor, Human Rights, Environmental and Development Groups.

Read the Jubilee USA letter to the G20, IMF and White House signed by 213 groups.

Read Jubilee USA's March coronavirus response plan letter.

Read Jubilee USA Director Eric LeCompte's June 2nd address to the special session of the United Nations on coronavirus crisis solutions here.

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G20 Finance Ministers Kick COVID Crisis Decisions to Fall

Washington DC - Chaired by Saudi Arabia, G20 Finance Ministers met virtually and focused on the global health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. A communiqué issued by the Ministers suggested most decisions on the crisis will be made later in the year.

"The G20 Finance Ministers offered stronger language on the need for the private sector to participate in debt payment relief initiatives for the world's poorest countries," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who monitors the G20. "This is important as some private sector creditors are resisting the debt relief process."

Jubilee USA organized a letter, signed by hundreds of organizations, to the G20 Finance Ministers ahead of their meeting calling for action in the face of the coronavirus crisis. The letter recommended expanded debt relief, more aid for developing countries, processes to curb tax evasion and corruption and enacting market and financial crisis protections. The letter was signed by more than 200 groups and included some of the largest religious, labor, human rights, development and environmental institutions. 

In April the G20 approved a plan for 73 developing countries to suspend debt payments to G20 countries. 42 countries applied for the program that offers debt relief until the end of 2020.

"Given the severity of the current crisis, we hoped we'd see more action, including extending the debt payment suspension initiative into next year," said LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. "Decisions on further debt payment suspensions, permanent reductions of debt, trillions of dollars of needed aid and extending debt relief to more struggling countries will be left for meetings later this year."

In the Fall, the United Nations General Assembly meets. However the next round of decisions on coronavirus health and economic solutions most likely will take place at October IMF and World Bank meetings and November G20 meetings.

"The G20 wants to see more aid and financing options to consider from the IMF in the Fall. This is an allusion to accessing global reserve funds or what's known as the Special Drawing Rights," said LeCompte. "The Finance Ministers also emphasized again a strong commitment to moving forward global anti-money laundering laws."

Read the G20 Finance Minister Communiqué here.

Read Jubilee USA's press release on the G20 letter from hundreds of Religious, Labor, Human Rights, Environmental and Development Groups.

Read the Jubilee USA letter to the G20, IMF and White House signed by 213 groups.

Read Jubilee USA's March coronavirus response plan letter.

Read Jubilee USA Director Eric LeCompte's June 2nd address to the special session of the United Nations on coronavirus crisis solutions here.

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G20 Finance Ministers Issue Communiqué

Washington DC - Chaired by Saudi Arabia, G20 Finance Ministers met virtually and focused on the global health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. 

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network, releases the following statement on the G20 Finance Minister Communiqué:

"The G20 Finance Ministers offered stronger language on the need for the private sector to participate in debt payment relief initiatives for the world's poorest countries.

"Given the severity of the current crisis, we hoped we'd see more action, including increasing the debt payment suspension initiative into next year.

"Decisions on further debt payment suspensions, permanent reductions of debt, trillions of dollars of needed aid and extending debt relief to more struggling countries will be left for meetings later this year.

"The G20 emphasized again it's strong commitment to moving forward global anti-money laundering laws."

Read the G20 Finance Minister Communiqué here

 

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G20 Must Act, Say Hundreds of Religious, Labor, Human Rights, Environmental and Development Groups

Washington DC - Ahead of Saturday's G20 Finance Minister meetings, a wide range of 213 organizations is pressing for more action to confront the global health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. The largest religious bodies in the United States and Africa were joined by the biggest labor unions, human rights, environmental and anti-poverty groups in letters sent to the G20, IMF and White House.

In the letters, the groups call for debt cancellation for developing countries, more aid for countries, new processes to prevent financial crisis and measures that confront tax evasion and corruption.

"The coronavirus destroys lives and livelihoods and a growing coalition wants to see stronger action on the current crisis and new rules to stop future crises," noted Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of the religious organization that organized the G20 letter, Jubilee USA Network. "Many of the faith groups who signed the letter never signed a letter like this before. The impact of this crisis on vulnerable people propels communities to call for urgent action."

Counting their membership in the millions, labor unions including the United Steelworkers (USW), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) joined the faith groups in the G20 letter. Other signers include Human Rights organizations like Amnesty International USA and Pax Christi and also environmental advocates ranging from Amazon Watch to Friends of the Earth. Development groups were represented on the Jubilee USA letter such as American Jewish World Service, American Friends Service Committee, Bread for the World, Action Aid, Oxfam, Islamic Relief USA, RESULTS and Health Gap.

Major religious institutions led the Jubilee USA G20 letter including: The All Africa Conference of Churches, National Council of Churches, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and United Church of Christ Churches. The Unitarian Universalist Association and the largest representations of Quaker communities and Buddhist consortiums are on the letter. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a separate joint letter with Jubilee USA and Pope Francis continues to push for measures outlined in the statement to the G20.

The majority of signers on the letter were churches, synagogues, dioceses and religious congregations representing small towns and urban centers. 

"The G20 will make decisions this weekend that affect the survival of billions of vulnerable people confronting the pandemic," stated LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. "We've seen progress in getting aid to many people that need it, but we need to mobilize a lot more resources for people to confront the crisis."

The United Nations estimates that 265 million more people are facing famine due to the coronavirus crisis. The International Labor Organization says 400 million jobs will be wiped out and the IMF asserts the current economic crisis rivals the Great Depression.

Jubilee USA began meeting with world leaders and generating tens of thousands of messages on the crisis in February. In March, the leadership of Jubilee USA outlined a coronavirus response plan for the IMF and G20.

In April, the IMF and G20 agreed to cancel 6 months of debt payments for the 25 poorest countries and create a plan for 73 countries to suspend debt payments for 2020.

"This weekend the G20 considers increasing more debt relief for countries already benefiting and other developing countries who've been left out so far," stated LeCompte. "The private sector has resisted participating and that's on the G20 agenda too. Finally they'll discuss accessing trillions of dollars in global reserve funds or the Special Drawing Rights. These are resources we need immediately."

Read the Jubilee USA letter to the G20, IMF and White House signed by 213 groups.

Read Jubilee USA's March coronavirus response plan letter.

Read Jubilee USA Director Eric LeCompte's June 2nd address to the special session of the United Nations on coronavirus crisis solutions here.

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World Leaders Meet to Tackle COVID Debt and Development Crises

Washington DC - The G20 and Paris Forum convened a global virtual High-Level Ministerial conference for 39 countries focused on the economic, debt and development impacts of the coronavirus. 

"The meeting offered recommendations to the G20 as it tries to build consensus on next steps for dealing with the coronavirus economic impacts," noted Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert and the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA. "G20 Finance Ministers meet next week and will move forward decisions on debt relief and development aid for developing countries."

In April, the G20 moved forward a plan to suspend debt payments for 73 of the world's poorest countries. 41 of the 73 countries are accepting the relief.

"Next week's G20 meeting will focus on extending the debt payment suspension into 2021," said LeCompte. "While suspending the debt payments will generate billion of dollars for poor countries to deal with the coronavirus, the G20 plan still faces challenges. Not all G20 countries are fully participating and the private sector and commercial banks won't commit to join in debt relief measures. We also have the whole category of developing Middle Income Countries who are left out of debt relief plans."

The July 8th, High-Level Ministerial Conference, "Tackling the COVID-19 Crisis, Restoring Sustainable Capital Flows and Robust Financing for Development," included speeches from the heads of the IMF and World Bank. The World Bank's David Malpass called on China's Development Bank to join the debt suspension and he noted that some countries will need debts permanently reduced. Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the IMF, urged world leaders to start to look more closely at the challenges that Middle Income Countries like tourism dependent small island states face.

"The coronavirus crisis is destroying livelihoods and economies," noted LeCompte. "Expanding and increasing debt relief so people can survive the economic and health impacts of the crisis is essential for the developing world."

Read the conference agenda as a PDF here.

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SDR Global Webinar

 English-Spanish translation (by Zoom streaming)

Spanish version

Curing the Coronavirus Health & Economic Crisis in Developing Countries & Emerging Resilient as a Global Community;

Injecting Special Drawing Rights & Zero Debt Solutions

Global Webinar

June 25th 

19:30 New Delhi • 16:00 Harare • 15:00 London • 10:00AM Washington DC  

11:00AM Buenos Aires • 9:00AM Quito • 16:00 Brussels • 14:00 Accra • 23:00 Tokyo

 

Developing countries faced debt and financial crisis prior to COVID-19. Inequality exacerbates the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus in developed and developing countries. Too many countries, due to austerity policies, wrestled with weakened health systems and soaring unemployment before the coronavirus hit. Over 110 countries seek emergency support. The suspension of debt payments for a few countries is not enough to get through the crises, let alone being able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty and address inequality. Development aid, boosting tax revenues, curbing tax evasion and corruption are necessary, but cannot deliver enough resources or the urgent resources needed.

 

The United Nations Secretary General and UN agencies, African Finance Ministers, the International Monetary Fund, many countries and civil society organizations, call for a new and large issuance of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to offer efficient, unconditional and rapid means of providing liquidity to all developing countries.

 

Accessing these critical global reserve funds requires the IMF Executive Directors and the G20 to make an urgent decision that impacts every person in the world.

 

Panelists

The Honorable Minister for Finance of Ghana, Ken Ofori-Atta (TBC)

Andres Arauz, former Director of the Central Bank of Ecuador

Patricia Miranda, Global Advocacy Director, Latindadd

Jean Saldanha, Executive Director, Eurodad

Matthew Martin, Advisor of OIF Finance Ministers and Director of Development Finance International

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network (Moderator)

 

During this webinar, we will address:

  • What are SDRs, how are they issued, and how do they work?
  • Why were they issued in previous global financial crises, like 2008?
  • How do SDRs benefit low and middle income countries to fight the current health, economic and social crisis?
  • What is the amount of financial reserves that is needed?
  • What is the process of distributing SDRs from developed to developing countries?
  • What, if any, power do these actions give the IMF over countries?

 

Register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/8315924362490/WN_Coyl6vuPREeAIFHNzYKdoA

For more information, contact [email protected]

 

   

 

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Eric's UN COVID Address, Global News Coverage

Friends,

Jubilee USA's Eric LeCompte addressed a special session of the United Nations on coronavirus recovery on Tuesday. Eric articulated the global policies that need to move forward to lift the vulnerable, ensure the developing world can access healthcare and for all of us to be protected from financial crisis that rivals the Great Depression.

In his UN speech, Eric raises the need for emergency United Nations Security Council action, tackling inequality and corruption and changing laws to protect Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Ghana and all countries from debt crisis.

The speech promoted news ideas that are gaining momentum to confront the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus. The address received in-depth and featured coverage the you read in Associated PressFox News and the Washington Post.

Our Jubilee USA UN remarks highlight that we can emerge from this crisis with hope, more resilience and more inclusive global society.

Please read and share our Jubilee United Nations coronavirus address.

Thanks to your support and partnership, our coronavirus campaigns are moving forward with the United Nations, G7, G20 and White House. 

Thousands of you signed our petitions. More than 130 groups from the largest Christian and Jewish groups to the AFL-CIO signed our statement on debt, transparency and crisis response policies to world leaders. Recently, Eric spoke to National Public Radio's Marketplace about how the crisis could drive 60 million more people into extreme poverty and that we must take action.

In the coming days and weeks, we'll depend on you to act with us as we move the G20 in July.

Gratefully,

Zach Conti
Director of Policy and Advocacy
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