As Atlantic Region Braces For Another Damaging Hurricane Season, Concern Grows: Islands are unprepared as forecasters predict three hurricanes again
May 17, 2018
Efforts to reduce the country’s debt load in the wake of the hurricane appear to be moving backward, according to UN sovereign debt consultant and Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. He points out that the initial offer to pay 25 cents on the dollar to investors has now moved 40 cents as serious consideration is being given to so-called G.D.P.-linked bonds tied to the success or failure of the nation’s economic engine.
While efforts to prepare Puerto Rico, a US territory, require a response from the wealthiest nation on earth, smaller independent islands are especially exposed if a hurricane ravages the region again.
Moves are underway at the United Nations that could provide debt relief to independent islands such as Grenada, St Lucia, and Antigua if they are again stricken.
Recent public and private conversations have taken place at the United Nations Financing for Development Forum (FfDForum) in New York. The group is currently considering provisions for automatic debt relief and payment moratoriums when a disaster hits, as well as mandated debt restructuring. After the FfDForum focused on the measure, LeCompte says the G7, G20, International Monetary Fund or UN could call for its adoption and the creation of a legally binding process. Once approved at this level it could become legally binding, he said.
LeCompte expects the provisions to move forward in the next few months, just as the hurricane season could be approaching its historically most volatile period in the fall.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently featured in Devex speaking on the Financing for Development meetings at the United Nations last week in New York. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
UN financing forum sees focus on debt relief for vulnerable Caribbean nations
So far, there is no specific debt relief action plan for the Caribbean region, but it’s something to watch for at upcoming global summits, including the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in the fall, said Eric LeCompte, the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Jubilee USA Network.
“We see a consensus emerging about the need for a debt relief process for Caribbean islands to protect them from hurricanes and other natural disasters,” LeCompte said. “What people are really talking about now, is how do we have a permanent process in place that looks to structure and relieve debt after a crisis occurs?”
“There is momentum with the hurricane season, trying to get anything in place,” LeCompte explained. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I have never seen a moment where global decision makers are taking the situation as seriously as they are now. The seriousness is incredibly significant. If Jamaica gets hit by a Category Five, what does that do to the entire region?”
Read more here.
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations, 650 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee is building an economy that serves, protects and promotes participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief for the world's poorest people.
Our efforts build the political support needed to influence world-wide decision makers, the White House, Congress, the G20, International Financial Institutions and the United Nations to promote poverty reduction and move solutions to the international debt crisis. Ultimately, we work to create an international financial system that protects and ensures participation of the most vulnerable within the context of human rights. Our advocacy promotes responsible lending and borrowing, increasing debt relief for poor countries, curbing illicit financial flows and corporate tax avoidance, moving forward an international debt resolution process, pushing reforms in international financial institutions and protecting poor people from predatory financial behavior.
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