NAACP-Supported Jubilee Act, to Help Bring Debt Relief to Impoverished Countries, Moves to Full House for Vote as Early as April 8, 2008
NAACP URGES PRESIDENT BUSH TO SIGN THE BILL
International debt is sometimes a necessary tool used by nations to finance the domestic human needs of their citizens. Too much debt, however, can become unmanageable for any nation to repay. 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 new infusions of aid cannot be effective unless the drain of debt payments is stopped. Pouring more aid into impoverished countries without debt cancellation is like trying to fill a bathtub with the drain open. Debt prevents nations from fulfilling crucial needs such as health care, housing, education and strategic infrastructure development.
In the year 2000, world leaders at the United Nations 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. 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 infrastructure, education, health care, housing as well 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. This legislation would help deeply indebted countries to improve infrastructure, education, housing and health care and to ensure access to adequate nutrition and clean drinking water. 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.
On April 3, 2008, the House Financial Services Committee approved of H.R. 2634 the Jubilee Act; the next step is consideration by the full House of Representatives which may occur as early as the week of April 7, 2008. We must encourage both the House and the Senate to act swiftly and send this bill to the President’s desk for his signature as soon as possible.