Over 550 civil society organizations are calling for immediate debt cancellation to help lower-income countries fight Covid-19 in an Open Letter delivered to governments, international institutions, and, lenders.

Civil Society steps up call for debt cancellation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 17 OCTOBER 2020

Over 550 civil society organizations are calling for immediate debt cancellation to help lower-income countries fight Covid-19 in an Open Letter delivered to governments, international institutions, and, lenders.

  1. Over 550 civil society organizations and movements from almost 100 countries are calling on government, international institutions, and, lenders to cancel debts, including debts to private lenders, as world leaders come together at the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings and G20 Finance Ministers meeting this week.
  2. Campaigners demand that debt cancellation is followed by a comprehensive process that that will address unsustainable and illegitimate debts.
For interviews and more information contact Lidy Nacpil on 011+63+9178800410, Becky Lozada on 011+63+9175362638

Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, said:

“Debt cancellation is urgent to save lives. Countries are hit by an unprecedented economic shock, and at the same time face an enormous health care emergency.

“Everyday lives are shattered by debt burden but what we are getting from lenders are too little, and dwarfed by billions of loans being offered for COVID response. We are facing more debt burdens. It is deeply unjust that while millions of people need healthcare and financial support, private lenders like banks and hedge funds continue to rake in profits and refusing to play their part and cancel debt,” she said.

The Open Letter calls for:

  • Immediate and unconditional debt cancellation from all lenders, including bilateral, private and multilateral lenders, for at least the next four years. The G20 to support moves by any country to stop making payments on debt to private external lenders.
  • The use of these resources for healthcare, social protection and other essential services and rights, as well as for urgent climate action.
  • National Debt Audits, to critically examine and address national debts.
  • The creation through the United Nations of a systematic, comprehensive and enforceable process for sovereign debt restructurings.
  • Reparations for the damages caused to countries, peoples and nature, due to the contracting, use and payment of unsustainable and illegitimate debts and the conditions imposed to guarantee their collection.

Instead, G20 Finance Ministers have just announced a 6-month extension to their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), launched earlier this year. With the Covid-19 crisis far from over, the 550+ civil society groups that signed the Open Letter are calling on world leaders to do more, including cancelling rather than only suspending debts[1].

“We are calling for not just debt suspension which will only add to the debt burden, but for debt cancellation,” Nacpil stressed. “We need to see real action If world leaders truly want to support a just recovery from the pandemic.”

The World Bank and private lenders have yet to offer any debt cancellation despite repeated calls from civil society. There has been only a partial suspension of bilateral (country to country) debt included in the DSSI. Over US$300bn[2] is being spent annually by lower-income countries on debt payments and there are growing calls for more action to be taken so that countries can invest in vital healthcare and social protection spending and support their economies during the pandemic.

Recently the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also called on world leaders to do more to stop soaring deficits, particularly for countries in Africa, where there are 12 of the 23 countries at risk of debt distress[3]. There are chronic levels of debt across many regions, including small Island states which are being hit by a double blow of debt and climate crisis.

Signatories of the Open Letter include the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), and the global, regional and national networks including Jubileo Sur Americas, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Red Latinoamericana por Justicia Económica y Social (LATINDADD), European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD) ActionAid International, Fight Inequality Alliance, 350.org, Oxfam International, and, Corporate Accountability.


Notes:

APMDD is a regional alliance of peoples’ movements, organizations, coalitions, and, networks. It aims to promote people-centered development, economic and environmental rights and justice through programs and campaigns on Global Finance and Public Finance; Ecological Debt, Environmental Justice, Climate Change, Reparations for Climate Debt, Preventing Catastrophic Climate Change; and, Gender and Women Issues with the role and policies of International Financial Institutions as a cross-cutting issue.

  1. The Open Letter with signatures is available here: https://www.debtgwa.net/resources
  2. Calculated using the World Bank Debt Statistics table: https://data.worldbank.org/products/ids
  3. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/highlighting-covid-19-impact-africa-secretary-general-urges-development-partners-high