Reform don't abolish ECGD, say debt campaigners

By staff writers
September 25, 2010

Jubilee Debt Campaign, which works for the cancellation of unpayable and unjust poor country debts, says it wants the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) reformed, not abolished.

Responding to press reports that the ECGD is “under review” as part of the Government’s ‘bonfire of quangos’, Nick Dearden, director of the UK coalition, commented: “We welcome the news that the Export Credits Guarantee Department is being considered for serious reform. For too long, the ECGD has underwritten dodgy deals which have harmed human rights and the environment, and created toxic debts in the developing world."

“But scrapping or privatising the ECGD would leave unanswered questions about whether the state would continue as an underwriter of last resort for UK exports, and how the Government plans to fulfil its manifesto pledge to champion green exports", he added.

"Privatisation could make the situation even worse if it means public money being spent with no public oversight," said Dearden.

“We agree that the ECGD is totally unfit for purpose and requires a fundamental shake-up. But it goes beyond one department; the UK Government must stop putting the interests of big corporations ahead of people and planet – as well as a balanced approach to UK industry”

Jubilee Debt Campaign is part of a coalition of NGOs calling for an end to ECGD support for what it calls "dirty business".

Before coming to power, the new Business Secretary, Vince Cable called for ECGD support for arms exports to be cut, and the new International Development Minister, Andrew Mitchell, called for ECGD support for fossil fuel exports to be cut. However, these promises may now be under threat.

Jubilee Debt Campaign’s 'End Britain’s Dodgy Deals' campaign, launched earlier this year, has called for an overhaul of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

Ekklesia is a supporter of the JDC.

Reports in the Daily Telegraph newspaper and the BBC claim that the coalition government may abolish some 180 quangos - quasi non-governmental organisastions.

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