Responses to the debt initiative launched at the G7 Finance Ministers’ meeting last week are finally becoming easier to come by. The general tone is a cautious welcome for the announcement, but continuing concern at the lack of specifics. The Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK) response notes that:
the communique did not commit to any specific actions, or offer any new money for debt cancellation. Nor did it address the crucial issue of the strings often attached to debt relief. Jubilee Debt Campaign and other organisations are demanding that creditors must stop making debt cancellation conditional on impoverished countries implementing economic policy reforms – such as enforced privatisations or cuts in public spending, which can harm the populations of poor countries as much as the original debts.
JDC are running an email campaign for supporters to contact G7 finance ministers and ask for decisive action on debt relief. The text offered there has yet to be updated to reflect recent announcements, so if taking part you may want to bear that in mind. The action can be found here.
Oneworld.net were, unsurprisingly, the first major NGO news organisation to get an article out. Their piece provides a good summary of the current situation, particularly regarding the US government’s current response. Jubilee USA, whose coordinator Neil Watkins is quoted in the Oneworld.net piece, had strong wording in their statement released during the meeting and remain critical of the lack of detail in proposals released so far, though they do note that:
We recently celebrated a small step forward during the early February G-7 Finance Ministers meeting — for the first time, the G-7 as a group officially indicated the need for “as much as 100% multilateral debt relief.”
Jubilee USA’s main focus at present is on the JUBILEE Act which is to be re-introduced to congress next month. The Act would require the US treasury to work actively for debt cancellation for 50 highly indebted countries. More details of the act, including details to pass on to US representatives, can be found at this page.