Today Mary has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask that he raise the cancellation of the debt of the world’s poorest countries at this weekend’s meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers.
As the whole world is considering how it can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that the UK uses it’s position to help less wealthy countries recover.
“Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP,
I am writing to you ahead of this week’s G20 finance ministers’ meeting to urge you to use this opportunity to work with your international counterparts to cancel the debt of the world’s poorest countries.
This is an issue that both constituents and campaigners have been in contact with me about. I write on their behalf as I agree with their concerns regarding the worrying debt burdens faced by countries across the global south.
As the world faces serious economic consequences as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, those countries in greatest need must be given the financial breathing space necessary to recover from this unprecedented crisis. We know that keeping money in developing countries by cancelling debt payments is the quickest way to ensure countries can both respond to the pandemic and rebuild their countries afterwards. Before the pandemic even hit, 34 countries were already in debt default or at high risk of being so, which makes it vital that we act urgently to avoid countries facing severe hardship.
I appreciate the steps taken so far by yourself and your fellow G20 finance ministers to ensure suspension on bilateral debt payments due in 2020 from the poorest nations. But I write to urge you to go further this time.
Without further action, countries will face an even bigger debt crisis in a year’s time when the bilateral debt payment suspension period comes to an end. Furthermore, not enough action has been taken to address debt owed to private lenders or to multilateral banks. Voluntary measures are not good enough. We must ensure that developing countries suffering the health and economic impact of Covid-19 have all their debt payments to bilateral, multilateral and private creditor cancelled immediately
I therefore urge you to use the opportunity of this week’s G20 finance ministers’ meeting to work with your counterparts to ensure all bilateral debt payments are cancelled for the countries that need it until at least the end of 2021, and that a joint call is issued to the World Bank and IMF to take similar moves towards cancellation of all multilateral debt for the same countries. I also urge you to call on private lenders not to take legal action against any country who stop debt payments due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
I hope that you will take these demands to the G20 meeting and that you will also use this opportunity to commit the UK to work with other governments and international institutions to initiate a new process for long-term debt restructuring in order to prevent a future debt crisis.
I thank you again for the work you’ve done so far on debt cancellation for the world’s poorest nations and hope that you utilise this week’s G20 meeting to put the UK at the forefront of securing full debt cancellation for those countries who are suffering the worst economic impacts of this global pandemic.”