Jan 152015
 

More than 2 billion people inhabit the 39 developing countries that are heavily indebted to other nations. These heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) pay about $3 billion each year to service their debt, some of which was acquired during the Cold War by corrupt regimes. These debt payments greatly reduce the availability of funding for urgent human services needed by the people of these countries. Beginning in 1996, industrialized donor countries began cancelling some of this debt through programs such as HIPC Initiative. To qualify, countries must face an unsustainable debt burden which cannot be managed with traditional means. About 36 of the 39 HIPC nations are in this program. However, this assistance is conditional on the governments of these countries meeting a range of economic management and performance targets. Critics claim these conditions often undermine poverty-reduction efforts by imposing significant financial burdens on their populations. For example, privatizing utilities tend to raise the cost of services beyond the ability of many citizens to pay. Critics claim the HIPC Initiative is a program designed by creditors to protect creditor interests, leaving countries with unsustainable debt burdens even after intervention. They say the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) have sufficient resources to easily cancel the debts owed to these institutions by heavily indebted poor countries.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current HIPC debt relief policy

I support modifying in the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, including requiring that: the amount of debt relief provided by the IMF and the World Bank under the Enhanced HIPC Initiative for a HIPC be sufficient to completely cancel 100% of the HIPC’s debt owed to such institutions; no provision of debt relief under the Initiative be conditioned on any country’s implementing a structural adjustment or stabilization program of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility of the IMF or any other such program operated solely or jointly by the IMF or the World Bank; all HIPCs that are working in good faith to develop and implement their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) pursuant to the Initiative not be required to make service payments on their debts, and wish to identify a legislator who will reintroduce H.R.643 – Debt Cancellation for the New Millennium Act (108th Congress, 2003-2004)

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) are the financial arms of the World Trade Organization. The IMF, an international organization with 188 member nations, facilitates international financial transactions and makes loans to developing countries in need. Wars, disasters and economic crisis are common needs. Often, the IMF is the only source of financial assistance available to these distressed countries. However, as a condition of granting these loans, the IMF requires applicants to make structural changes in their economies to help them achieve economic stability, reduce poverty and repay these loans. These changes are called structural adjustment programs (SAP). The IMF withholds assistance until these conditions are met. SAPs are supposed to allow the economies of these poor nations to become more market oriented, forcing them to focus more on trade and production. SAP requirements, also called “austerity programs,” are often economically painful to enact. Using free-market policies, SAPs include devaluating currency, increasing interest rates, deregulating and privatizing government-owned industries and reducing government spending. Often, the changes required by the IMF produce unintended results which cause the populations of these nations to suffer further hardship. For example, in order to be eligible for debt relief, developing countries have been forced to cut programs such as education, public health and other social safety nets. Usually, these programs are already underfunded and desperately need more funding, not less. Human rights advocates believe loans should not be used to compel needy nations to change their economies in a way that may benefit wealthier WTO members at the expense of the poor ones. They claim the IMF should not be involved in the policy-making process of developing countries and that structural adjustments should not be required for countries to receive IMF loans. Rather, these loans should be based on poverty and environmental needs not on economic reform. The IMF disagrees, saying SAPs are intended to reduce poverty and that it is the poor who benefit from its policies.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current IMF loan policy

I support identifying a legislator who will require the IMF to grant loans on need-based criteria without requiring structural adjustment programs

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The United Nations Global Compact is a UN initiative that encourages multinational corporations to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Compact, corporations are brought together with UN agencies, labor groups and civil society. The Compact asks businesses to respect the environment and human rights, abolish child labor, recognize collective bargaining rights and reject bribery and extortion. If agreed to, these corporations are then acknowledged as being responsible partners with the UN. Some display the UN logo when advertising their products. However, according to the Compact itself, once companies declare their support for these principles, “This does not mean that the Global Compact recognizes or certifies that these companies have fulfilled them.” Critics believe that without any effective monitoring and enforcement provisions, the Global Compact fails to hold corporations accountable. They say there is a conflict of interest for the United Nations to have relationships with private companies, some of which have been responsible for environmental damage and human rights abuses. They also claim some companies use their membership in the Global Compact as an excuse to oppose any binding international regulation on corporate accountability.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current U.N. Global Compact partnership policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to add verification and enforcement provisions to the U.N. Global Compact partnership

 Posted by at 12:00 am