Grenada agreed to a debt plan with its Caribbean island investors that will result in a 50% reduction in the value of existing Grenada investment bonds. The deal offers investors a portion of future revenues from a government program designed to attract foreign investment. Although the deal addresses about $262 million in debt, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that Grenada's total debt tops $907 million. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, nearly 40% of Grenada's population lives below the poverty line. "Grenada's debt deal is a significant step in the right direction," said Reverend Sean Doggett, a spokesperson for the local Catholic Diocese and a founding member of Grenada's Jubilee Committee. Because of the correlation of debt levels to high poverty rates, Grenada's Jubilee Committee was organized by the Conference of Churches in Grenada to influence debt negotiations between investors, the IMF and the government of Grenada. "The Conference of Churches in Grenada continues to engage in this process and work with its partners in the region."
Other Caribbean islands are also dealing with unsustainable debts or attempting to renegotiate their debt levels. These islands include Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica and Jamaica. Jubilee USA supported Grenada's Jubilee Committee and last year religious leaders across the small islands formed the Caribbean Debt Network (CDN) to join debt negotiations on all islands facing crisis.
Due to the involvement of Grenada's Jubilee Committee and the Conference of Churches, Grenada's debt negotiations over the last two years with the IMF and with bond investors included provisions to protect the poor and stem austerity policies. Legislation to ensure budget transparency and responsible borrowing are moving forward on the island. A homegrown plan to curb corporate and professional tax avoidance was designed to protect public sector jobs. Additionally, those close to the negotiations say new investment bonds will include a "hurricane" clause as much of the island's economic woes are traced to a 2004 hurricane.
"Grenada is still dealing with high debt burdens," noted Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the anti-poverty group Jubilee USA. "This debt deal is a step forward as we work for more comprehensive solutions in the region."
Through various United Nations processes, including the Financing for Development process, Jubilee USA and Caribbean Ambassadors have argued for the establishment of a comprehensive and transparent global bankruptcy process to resolve the regional crisis.
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 the 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