Jubilee Debt Campaign activists will be protesting outside the UK Treasury later this week, with their call for 'Life before debt' for the world's people.
The message will be spelled out in giant letters on the eve of the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, running on 5-6 September.
Campaigners will then head on to Downing Street to hand in a 10,000-strong paper chain petition calling for a radical new response to today's financial crisis; debt cancellation for the most indebted countries, tax justice and controls on lending to prevent future debt crises.
Nick Dearden, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, commented: “The lives of hundreds of millions of people are being adversely affected by the myth that debt is the moral responsibility of the people of a country however little those people were responsible for, or benefited from, the loans. Many debts should not be paid because the loans were odious or their repayment will cause immense suffering."
“We also need to take control of our financial system so that the power of big finance over all of our lives is broken. This G20 needs to make companies pay a fair share of tax. And controls on the movement of money between countries are needed to prevent large debts being created This isn’t utopian – there are real policies, models and experiments now and historically which point the way to a fairer, more democratic form of economics," he added.
“As things stand, the international economic system is skewed towards debt and away from life. The world needs to stand up against this system and say loud and clear to the G20 – it’s time to put life before debt,” said Dearden.
The activists will gather ahead of a summit in which discussions will include the G8's pledge in June 2013 to take action on tax justice, how to respond to debt crises in the wake of the continuing European debt crisis, and the vulture fund case in New York against Argentina which could force the South American country to default on its debt.
On Wednesday 4 September, the IMF Board will meet to approve a new loan package for Pakistan, which campaigners say is symptomatic of the debt and austerity system which has impoverished countries around the world for decades.
Jubilee Debt Campaign are demanding the creation of mechanisms to cancel debts for countries in crisis, such as Greece, Portugal, Pakistan, Jamaica and Tunisia.
They also want to see an increase tax revenue for all countries by clamping down on tax avoidance, for example through making companies report on how much profit they make and tax they pay in every country they operate in.
A third demand is proper controls on lending through enabling countries to monitor and regulate the movement of money across the world.
When such ‘capital account regulations’ existed across the world in the 1950s and 1960s, there were hardly any debt crises, JDC points out.
* Jubilee Debt Campaign: www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/