Catholic aid agency CAFOD has criticised G20 finance ministers for ignoring calls for assurances on debt relief, saying it is a “kick in the teeth” for developing countries as they struggle to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The criticism comes after Catholic bishops and other representatives from the UK’s faith communities called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to push for debt cancellation at last weekend’s G20 finance meeting, which saw ministers discuss how the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the meeting, the faith leaders told G20 finance ministers that relieving developing countries of their debts at this time would help millions of at-risk people in some of the world’s poorest countries, as the pandemic is being brought under control.
However, in the G20 meeting there was no change made on the issue, as ministers simply repeated their comments from April, when they encouraged private lenders to join with existing debt relief initiatives.
Graham Gordon, CAFOD’s head of policy, said the “lack of progress” on debt relief by the ministers acted as a “kick in the teeth” for developing countries who are already facing great struggles due to the pandemic.
“The lack of further progress on debt relief by the G20 is a kick in the teeth for those developing countries who are struggling to respond to the health and economic crises they face,” he told The Catholic Universe.
“The failure by G20 leaders to fully cancel the crippling debts owed to them and to secure agreement to cancel or suspend multilateral and private debt will put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk. It will undermine efforts towards any economic recovery – never mind a green recovery.
“It is incomprehensible that the G20 is not responding to the urgency of this unprecedented economic catastrophe,” Mr Gordon continued. “Debtor governments will continue to be forced to service debts when this is precisely the time they need to throw all the resources they can at their health systems and social protection to save lives.”
Picture: A boy gathers water from a watering hole in a remote area along the Sobat River in the Greater Upper Nile region of northeastern South Sudan, Africa. (Julien Behal/PA).