CLEVELAND – Two religious leaders, including the chairman of a U.S. episcopal committee, urged the Biden administration to support the release of $ 3 trillion in global contingency funds to help developing countries respond to the coronavirus pandemic .
Writing on February 23 at the White House, the leaders also called on the Group of 20 nations, or G-20, and private groups to cancel all debts and increase aid to the poorest developing countries, to put end tax evasion and create permanent global bankruptcy. process of preventing future economic crises.
“The letter presents a roadmap on how to address the structures that cause poverty, inequality and the challenges we now face in this great economic crisis,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an alliance of faith-based development. and rights groups who led the effort.
Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the American Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, also signed the letter.
The letter was sent ahead of the virtual meeting of G-20 finance ministers on February 26, where actions to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic will be discussed. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will attend the meeting.
The letter to Biden comes after the president attended the virtual summit of the Group of 7 or the G-7 of major industrialized countries on February 19, in which he pledged that the United States would return to a multilateral approach to addressing the issues. World challenges.
Debt cancellation would allow developing countries to better cope with the impact of the pandemic, LeCompte told Catholic News Service on February 24.
“These are the solutions that Pope Francis asked for,” he said. “He’s been a drummer since he arrived in the United States in 2015 and delivered his speech to the United Nations. It was there that he explained that the financial system must be transformed.
At the start of the pandemic in February 2020, the Pope quickly called for immediate debt cancellation.
While the G-20 countries agreed at the onset of the pandemic last spring to suspend payments of debt owed to them by 77 of the world’s poorest countries, further action is needed, LeCompte said.
The letter cited the International Labor Organization’s estimate that 495 million jobs were lost globally in 2020 and a World Bank estimate that up to 150 million people will fall into extreme poverty in 2021 in support of his claims to Biden.
The letter echoes similar demands made to G-20 countries in a February 23 statement from Brussels-based CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America.
“Given the effects of the pandemic in developing countries, the US government must lead the world to access emergency reserve funds,” known as Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, according to the letter. “These generated funds were crucial in helping economies survive the 2008 financial crisis.”
The two leaders urged the administration to lead a response with the G-20, the International Monetary Fund and the US Congress to generate a $ 3 trillion SDR issue for developing countries.
Legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives to extend the authority to issue SDRs from $ 695 million to $ 3 trillion. LeCompte said he hoped Congress as a whole would pass the measure.
The G-20 includes the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy , Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States. States.