DEBT repayments of the poorest countries should be cancelled while the world tackles the coronavirus pandemic, Christian Aid has said.
The international development charity has launched a Cancel The Debt campaign calling on the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to broker a debt relief deal. The call comes ahead of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meeting this week (17-19 April) to discuss the details of a coronavirus Global Rescue Package.
Poor and vulnerable communities in developing countries are less able to cope with the virus, with 40% of the world’s population unable to access soap and water and millions living in crowded and precarious situations.
Christian Aid’s Principal Adviser on Private Sector, Policy and Advocacy, Matti Kohonen, said:
“We are extremely grateful for the UK government’s help to safeguard people’s future here in our country during the current health crisis.
“Yet, we also need to do more to support our global neighbours to help them tackle their emerging health crisis.
“Although the health impacts in developing countries are small so far, the economic effects of the pandemic have already hit them hard, with commodity prices, exports and public revenues affected and many people forced out of work. Additional lockdowns and movement restrictions could exacerbate the effects further. In the poorest nations, there is little social protection in place, and when the health implications do start to rise, poor and vulnerable communities will need a great deal of support.
“It is estimated that 76 of the world’s poorest countries are due to spend $18.6bn (£15.5bn) in 2020 on debt payments to other governments, $12.4bn to multilateral institutions and $10.1bn to external private creditors – $40.6bn in total.
“We are launching this campaign as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who hold vast amounts of developing country debt, hold their Spring Meeting. By dropping the debt, poorer nations could spend money on their own fight against Covid-19, helping to save millions of lives.”
To add your name to the campaign, visit https://www.christianaid.org.uk/campaigns/debt-jubilee-petition. Follow the campaign on Twitter using #CanceltheDebt