NAACP Calls for Passage of the Jubilee Act


The Issue:
International debt is sometimes a necessary tool used by nations to finance the domestic human needs of their citizens and infrastructure development.  Too much debt, however, can become unmanageable for any nation to repay.  Thus there are a number of countries that continue to face crippling debt in Africa and throughout the world.  For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the approximate number of people living on less than a dollar a day has actually increased since 1990.  If current trends are not reversed, Africa will be the only region in the world where there will be more poor people in 2015 than there were in 1990.  The Jubilee Act, now pending in the U.S. Congress, will help lift the burden of international debt which many poor and developing nations face as obstacles to fulfilling their full potential. 

The World Bank and the United Nations have estimated that an additional $45 billion to $75 billion will be needed globally every year to cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015.  Some of this money can be generated from aid, but oftentimes aid does not reach those who need it most.  Moreover, new infusions of aid cannot be effective unless the drain of debt payments is stopped. For every dollar received in grant aid, low-income countries pay back $2.30 in debt service, preventing fulfilling crucial needs such as health care, housing, education and necessary infrastructure development.

In 2000, world leaders committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of global development goals aimed alleviating poverty throughout the world by the year 2015.  A critical method through which this can be achieved must include debt relief.  However debt relief must not come with unreasonable conditions that will result in reduced benefits to the indebted nation and harm to its people.  When implemented well, we know that debt relief works.  In countries such as Burundi, Ghana, Honduras, Tanzania and Zambia, money saved from debt relief has been used to improve access to daily basic necessities of life such as food and clean drinking water.

While significant progress has been achieved, debilitating debt is still a problem for all too many impoverished countries.  To further address this problem, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA) and Senators Robert Casey (PA), Richard Lugar (IN), and Chris Dodd (CT) have introduced H.R. 2634 / S. 2166, the Jubilee Act, which calls for the U.S. Treasury to support 100% debt relief to poor countries that need it most.  At the current rate of progress, the world is still decades behind in fulfilling the completion of the MDGs.  Passage of the Jubilee Act will greatly bolster efforts to get the international community back on track toward meeting these goals by 2015. 

Today and tomorrow are Jubilee Act Call-In Days!  Take a Minute to call your Representative and both your Senators and urge them to co-sponsor and support H,R, 2634 / S. 2166, the Jubilee Act.

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