Our partners at AFRODAD are warning that Africa's debt levels are rising and that they are unsustainable. Debt crowds out spending on important social priorities like health and education, a reality the world is witnessing all too clearly as Ebola continues to devastate Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Below is media coverage of AFRODAD's excellent work on this issue:
Dr. Fanwell Kenala Bokosi, Executive Director of The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) -- a civil society organisation that advocates for debt cancellation, has described Africa’s rising debt as “unsustainable.”
Great blog from our friends at the Columban Center.
By Zach Alles
Proclaim Jubilee! Leviticus 25 describes the biblical Jubilee as a “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” requiring the land lie fallow, all debts be forgiven, captives be freed, and a celebration held, once every 50 years.
March 13 marks the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. After two years as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis has made poverty and inequality central themes in his papacy. The Catholic Church was a principle founder of Jubilee USA Network, a faith-based campaign that focuses on inequality that won billions of dollars in debt relief for poor countries. Jubilee USA's Executive Director met Pope Francis last May and engages in high-level talks with the Vatican Secretary of State and senior officials on debt, tax and financial issues.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious anti-poverty organization Jubilee USA Network and an expert to United Nations finance working groups, releases the following statement:
"Poverty and inequality have always been important aspects of Catholic teaching. What sets Pope Francis apart from his predecessors is that he has made these central issues of his papacy.
New Rules Protect Students from Predatory Behavior
By Sophia Har
President Obama signed by executive order a "Student Aid Bill of Rights." These reforms are meant to protect the average college student who graduates with $29,400 in student debt. The initiative includes new rules requiring third-party lenders to inform students of alternative repayment options and a new website where students can file complaints against lenders.
"These actions to protect students are a welcome step," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious debt relief organization Jubilee USA Network. "Student debt in the United States surpasses $1 trillion."
Jubilee USA Network, founded by mainline Christian Churches and Jewish Synagogues, won over $130 billion in debt relief for poor economies since the late 1990s. The organization over the last 3 years has led successful campaigns with over 100 churches and synagogues to keep federal loan interest rates manageable.
"These new rules push back the predatory groups who seek to take advantage of our students," noted LeCompte. "The future of generations depends on responsible lending and borrowing."
Sophia Har is the Communications Director at Jubilee USA Network. Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. www.jubileeusa.org
The World Bank just announced that it did not properly monitor resettlement projects connected to World Bank-funded development programs. The news agency Reuters reported that the Bank "had no idea how many people may have been forced off their land and lost their jobs due to its projects in developing countries, and whether these people were compensated fairly and on time."
This announcement is a reminder of the urgency of implementing responsible lending and borrowing principles at international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Responsible Lending and Borrowing is a key component in addressing poverty, protecting poor communities from unsustainable debt burdens, harmful loans to repressive regimes and the unintended consequences of large development projects. Jubilee USA is at the forefront of promoting responsible lending and borrowing and played a significant role in developing the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) major report on the topic.
Development projects that displace whole communities are a perfect example of the problem. The World Bank's internal auditor found that the Bank's projects weren't directly linked to intimidation and harassment of evicted residents, but that the Bank didn't plan to properly mitigate risk. Lenders, like borrowers, have a responsibility to ensure that their loans do not bring harm to a community. As the World Bank announces plans to address the problems, Jubilee will continue to advocate for enshrining responsibility in the lending practices of major financial institutions.