Christians say a fair global economy still a great moral challenge
In anticipation of the first World Debt Day, the struggle for a fairer global economy has been called one of the great moral challenges of our time.
Sunday 16th May 2004 sees the first World Debt Day. Co-ordinated by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, the World Debt Day weekend will see people from all faiths and backgrounds organise events and acts of worship to mark the achievements of a campaign that has seen promises of doubling the levels of debt relief. It will also to draw attention to the need to cancel remaining debts.
Methodist President of Conference Rev Dr Neil Richardson, joining a chorus of support from faith leaders, said: "World Debt Day on May 16th is a reminder that one of the great moral challenges of our time is the struggle for a fairer global economy."
In 1999, G8 countries promised to write off 0 billion of poor countries' debt, yet only billion has actually been cancelled. This means that poor countries' Governments are spending vital resources on debt repayment instead of on building infrastructure, say campaigners. As a result, poor people continue to be deprived access to basic services like clean water, equipped hospitals and schools.
Dr Richardson explained; "Many of the poorest countries in the world carry a crushing burden of debt. The world's richest countries live at their expense. The Jubilee Debt Campaign, therefore, deserves our support in their attempt to end this injustice. I urge Christians of all traditions, in the light of the Bible's 'bias to the poor', to give this campaign all the help they can, and I pray God's blessing upon it."
Structured debt relief allows Governments to use their resources to build social services within their country. The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) supports development partners in a number of countries, such as Ethiopia, Cameroon and Senegal, that continue to be burdened by debt.
Steve Hucklesby, Secretary for International Affairs for The Methodist Church, added; "The accumulation of debt in Highly Indebted Poor Counties has built up over a period of years in a large part due to global economic trends that have adversely affected fragile economies. That this debt should still burden these countries, creating a drag on development, is an injustice."
World Debt Day will see churches across the country hold special services. Campaigners are inviting MPs to come and read a lesson.
Supporters will be organising talks, screening short films and running in races against debt. Mass signings of the Jubilee Debt Campaign's action cards Call for Change will also take place on the day and these will later be sent to Gordon Brown.
Jubilee Debt Campaigners are hoping to get the issues of debt, trade and development to the forefront of the public and political agenda in time for 2005 when, as the host of the G8 Summit and the holder of the EU presidency, Britain will be a position to drive forward international policies that will really benefit the development of poor countries.