Over fifty MPs write to the Chancellor calling for greater loan transparency

By agency reporter
May 31, 2019

Over fifty MPs from every party in the UK parliament have written to the UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond, calling for action to strengthen transparency around loans to governments at this year’s G20 Finance Ministers meeting. The letter includes a call for the UK to introduce a requirement that for a loan to a government to be enforceable in the UK, it must have been publicly disclosed when it was given. Currently 48 per cent of international loans to governments are owed under UK law, with the other 52 per cent owed under New York law.

The letter has been sent ahead of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting which takes place in Japan from 8-9 June 2019. Debt transparency and sustainability is one of the key items on the agenda following hidden debt scandals in countries including Mozambique and Republic of Congo.

The MPs call for the G20 to create “a publicly accessible registry of loans to governments” and to commit “to disclosing the loans they give to governments on this registry”.

The MPs also call for “all relevant jurisdictions, especially the UK and New York, to introduce a requirement that for a loan to a government to be enforceable it must have been publicly disclosed in the registry when the loan is given”.

The MPs conclude the letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond saying: “We agree with your statement in December 2018 that you ‘reject the idea that laxer regulation makes a jurisdiction more attractive’. We hope you will make the UK a world leader in improving the transparency of loans to governments, in the interest of good governance around the world.”

Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “It is brilliant that MPs from all parties in the UK parliament are calling for action to strengthen transparency around loans to governments. In the main cases of secret loans to impoverished countries, such as Mozambique and Republic of Congo, the loans were given under UK law by UK-based or listed companies. While increased international attention on lending transparency is welcome, so far the G20 governments have done little in concrete terms to get more public disclosure of loans. The UK government and G20 need to act now to ensure civil society, media and parliamentarians can get access to information on debts taken out by governments on behalf of the public.”

The letter is signed by former Conservative Cabinet Minister Dame Caroline Spelman and former Conservative International Development Secretaries Andrew Mitchell and Justine Greening. Also former Labour International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, and the current Chair of the International Development Select Committee, Stephen Twigg.

* Read the full letter here 

* Jubilee Debt Campaign https://jubileedebt.org.uk/


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