FfD Forum 2019

Statement to Panel E: “Debt sustainability and systemic issues” on behalf of Civil Society FfD Group (including the Women’s Working Group on FfD)

Delivered by Heron Belfon, Jubilee Caribbean

18 April 2019

Thank you, chair

As a global Jubilee Debt Movement we have learnt from the catastrophic debt crisis of the 1980s that sustainable solutions to debt crises need to be comprehensive and fair. If they are not, crises will be unnecessarily protracted and destructive as many of us in the Caribbean have experienced in the 1990s.

There is an urgent need to create better organizations for the prevention and resolution of debt crises. The timid steps that have been presented are insufficient, given the magnitude of the challenges. A simple expansion of the Paris Club to more bilateral creditors does not fix the many problems we have when it comes to the restructuring of private and multilateral debts.

More debt transparency is important, but it is not just the hidden debt that is troubling us. In many countries, even the debt that is known is much too high. Every dollar that our countries are paying on these debts is a dollar that is taken from development.      

I would like to remind delegations that in 2014 the UN General Assembly committed to working towards a fair and transparent debt workout mechanism, which would include, where necessary, all creditors.

In the Caribbean as in other countries affected by climate-change induced disasters – such as Mozambique most recently – we urgently need the option to halt all our debt payments and go for an all-inclusive debt restructuring whenever we are hit by disasters like the hurricane Maria, which wiped out 226% of GNI in Dominica in 2017.

We therefore call on delegations to build on the work already done in the United Nations, like in the 2014/5 process at the General Assembly and the UNCTAD Roadmap and Guide to Sovereign Debt Workout. New debt crises are threatening to undermine the Agenda 2030 in many countries. If we are taking our commitment towards the Sustainable Development Goals seriously, we must act now and built effective institutions for the speedy and sustainable resolution of debt crises.

Thank you

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