In an open letter issued today, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the institutional representative of over 45 million businesses, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the global voice of the world’s working people, and Global Citizen, a movement of engaged citizens who use their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030, have urged Finance Ministers to use next week’s Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund to ensure sovereign debt does not stymie efforts to combat COVID-19.
With many developing countries now facing a decision to either service sovereign debt obligations or pay to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of their citizens, the letter calls on finance ministers to provide immediate relief from debt servicing obligations and fund the Catastrophe Containment Relief Trust.
The letter states: “No country should have to choose between servicing sovereign debt repayments or paying nurses and purchasing ventilators, and multilateral response financing should not be diluted by payments to official and private creditors.”
Joining forces in their call for the Spring Meetings to coordinate emergency action on debt, John W.H. Denton AO, ICC Secretary General, Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary and Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen write:
“Without urgent action, we see a fundamental risk that a series of debt defaults will further exacerbate the unprecedented economic downturn already unfolding before us and deliver a fatal blow to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The leaders underscore that failure to urgently address the debt and financing needs of developing countries could result in a fundamental collapse of social and economic systems in addition to large scale loss of lives and livelihoods.
“As representatives of the world’s workers, businesses and civil society, we cannot let this happen,” the letter concludes.