Setting global precedents on responsible lending and borrowing, a debt arbitration bankruptcy process and stopping IMF austerity programs
By: Jennifer Tong
Fueled by recurring financial crises, corruption and loans made to Caribbean countries in the aftermath of natural disasters, several Caribbean nations are suffering debt crises that have deep impacts on the poorest people. This year, Jubilee USA Network is helping to develop a new Jubilee Caribbean Debt Relief Network in order to cancel debt and set precedents that can impact millions of people living in extreme poverty around the globe.
Unsustainable debt is a symptom of an ailing international financial architecture plagued by reckless lending and borrowing, loss of tax revenue, the lack of a fair and transparent way of handling debt crises and the absence of participation by those impacted the most by global decision makers. Jubilee’s work in the Caribbean, starting in Grenada, will further our work to win the financial reforms to protect the most vulnerable.
Grenada has a public debt-to-GDP ratio of nearly 110 percent. The island nation’s economic growth over the past few years has remained stagnant due to the effects of the global economic slowdown and recovery from hurricanes, making it nearly impossible for countries to provide basic protections for their people.
The Conference of Churches in Grenada formed Jubilee Grenada and is advocating a debt deal that will help Grenadians. The Conference called for a biblical Jubilee or national debt cancellation, and inserted themselves in negotiations between the government and the IMF. The Conference invited its own international partners and experts to participate in discussions on Grenada’s debt deal, including Jubilee Director Eric LeCompte, who traveled to the Spice Isle to meet with Grenada’s government, parliamentary leaders and a representative from the IMF. At the two day meetings, there was agreement that Grenada’s debt deal must be transparent, fair, balanced and avoid the IMF’s usual strict austerity measures, which tend to disproportionately affect the poor.
“For a place that is perhaps wrongly faulted for a Mayberry carefree attitude, one stands in awe when you see how savvy the religious leaders are. They know any reforms they move forward that protect people in Grenada could mean better IMF deals for millions of other poor people around the world who are always the most affected when a country restructures its debt,” said Eric in his Op-Ed in Inter Press Service called Grenada’s IMF Sunday School, 10/11/2013.
Jubilee is supporting the efforts of the Conference for a fair debt deal for its citizens. Eric met with the US G8 Sherpa, Caroline Atkinson, and Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council, about Caribbean debt. Jubilee’s executive committee also sent a letter to IMF Head Christine Lagarde. Jubilee is moving forward a debt deal to protect Grenada’s people at the IMF and US Treasury.