The Australian Greens have joined an international delegation signing onto a letter calling for extensive debt forgiveness from international financial institutions, including the IMF and World Bank, for International Development Association countries. The letter was initiated by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and signatories include Jeremy Corbyn, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Yanis Varoufakis.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Adam Bandt MP are the sole Australian signatories to this unprecedented letter.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens spokesperson for International Aid and Development, said:
“The shackles of debt have crippled poorer countries for far too long. I proudly join many other leaders across the world calling for extensive debt forgiveness from international financial institutions.
“Many of these countries simply do not have the public health systems, nor the wealth, required to survive a deadly pandemic. They will need all the resources they can hang onto in order to get through to the other side of this.
“The Australian government should be urging institutions including the World Bank and the IMF to cancel developing countries’ debt and help put them on a track to get through COVID-19 with minimal loss of life and living standards.
“Though this pandemic has been devastating, it has also forced us to think in different ways about how the world should work. Governments, including Australia’s, should seize this opportunity to reset their thinking about debt, obligation and global poverty.
“We should approach debt through the lenses of human rights and social justice, and with historical context never far from our minds. Let’s be frank: the cascading legacies of brutal colonialism have locked in the poverty and economic underdevelopment which mean that it is highly unlikely that the debt of many countries will ever be fully paid off. And with the impacts of climate change to be felt most acutely in the Global South, we cannot let developing countries’ debt hold them back any longer,” she said.
Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens, said:
“The Australian Greens are proud to be adding our voice to calls from over 300 politicians, including Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar, to cancel debt for the world’s poorest countries.
“The COVID-19 health and economic crisis is entrenching global income inequality. But right now we have the chance to transform our world to be fairer and more equal,” he said.