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Washington DC, April 9, 2020 – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network, an interfaith religious group, is urging President Trump to lead the G20 on coronavirus global debt relief plans. The groups argue debt relief immediately allows developing countries to bolster healthcare and survive economic crises.

“As the G20 considers a suspension of debt payments from the 76 poorest countries in the world, the United States can lead the world, again, in calling on wealthy countries, the G20, the IMF and World Bank, to suspend debt  payments for developing countries,” wrote Bishop David J. Malloy and Eric LeCompte in a letter to the President on Wednesday. “Suspending debt payments, with no interest, can immediately allow countries to access funds to bolster their health systems and support needed stimulus packages in the developing world—allowing these countries to provide for their own health, safety and security.”

Malloy, writing on behalf of the US Catholic Bishops, chairs international policy for the largest single religious denomination in the United States. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis along with other major Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders championed debt relief policies with Jubilee USA Network since the 1990s.

The letter lands at the White House as hundreds of world leaders and development groups are calling on the G20, IMF and World Bank to stop collecting debt of developing countries. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development last week called for a trillion dollars of debt to be cancelled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Developing countries are unprepared to deal with the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus,” said LeCompte who serves on United Nations finance expert groups. LeCompte’s organization detailed a plan to the IMF in March to deal with the global crisis. “Most of Africa only has about 50 critical care beds per country. Without action, tens of thousands of people will die because they can’t access life saving health services.”
On Thursday, IMF Head Kristalina Georgieva foreshadowed next week’s Spring IMF and World Bank Meetings. Georgieva warned that our current financial crisis is on par with the Great Depression and encouraged debt cancellation and relief plans for the 76 poorest countries in the world.

“I agree with the Fund that we need to expand debt relief and poor countries should stop making debt payments,” shared LeCompte. “However, the IMF thinking is too small on the amount of debt relief needed. We need to start with at least hundreds of billions of dollars in debt relief measures, not billions.”

On Tuesday, groups representing “Jubilee” organizations around the world wrote the heads of the Fund and the World Bank to press broader aid and debt relief efforts. The letter was sent from the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development, the European Network on Debt and Development, Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, Jubilee Germany, the Latin American Network on Debt and Development and Rights, Oxfam International, the French Catholic – La Plateforme Française Dette & Développement, the Society for International Development and Jubilee USA Network.

Read US Catholic Bishops, Jubilee USA Letter here

Read Kristalina Georgieva’s “Curtain Raiser” Speech here

Read Jubilee USA’s March 23rd letter to IMF on a health and economic COVID-19 plan  here

Read Jubilee USA’s April 1st letter to the IMF on reserve gold funds here

Read Global Jubilee Groups Letter on Aid and Debt Relief here
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 700 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA wins critical global financial reforms and won more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world’s poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org