The US government is asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cancel $100 million of debt of the three developing countries most impacted by the Ebola epidemic. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is proposing a plan at the G20 meetings. Jubilee USA urged the White House at regular meetings during the Ebola outbreak to take this action. The Treasury Department announcement calls for relief for Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to come from a special IMF trust fund set aside for countries impacted by natural disasters. The fund was established in 2010 when Jubilee USA called for the cancellation of Haiti's debt after its devastating earthquake. The three countries owe the IMF approximately $370 million. Guinea, where the outbreak began, spends more money annually on debt than on public health.
"This is absolutely fantastic news," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious debt relief organization, Jubilee USA. "We are so grateful that Secretary Lew and the Administration are bringing this plan for debt relief for the Ebola-stricken countries."
According to 2012 World Bank numbers, Guinea pays approximately $147 million annually in debt service, but spends just $102 million on public health. The World Bank states that West Africa stands to lose more than $25 billion in GDP and 4% of its annual growth without intervention. Treasury Department officials said the money would be used to fund social services and support economic growth.
"Debt relief means more money to deal with so many challenges these countries face," noted LeCompte. "It means more money for recovery after Ebola is contained. Debt relief means hope."
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org