Caribbean islands recovering from Hurricane Irma, now confront Hurricane Maria. According to initial reports, Hurricane Maria leveled parts of the island of Dominica. As of Tuesday morning, the Category 5 storm heads towards Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. At a high-level event at the United Nations General Assembly, Jubilee USA's Executive Director Eric LeCompte called for a debt payment delay for hurricane-struck islands.
"A quick way to get rebuilding aid for islands affected by hurricanes is to temporarily stop debt payments," said LeCompte, Jubilee USA's Executive Director who serves on United Nation expert groups that focus on debt. "If the International Monetary Fund delays debt payments, it would immediately free up millions of dollars for islands trying to recover."
Last week, the Catholic Bishop of Dominica sent a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) asking for debt relief for islands recovering from disasters. As president of a conference of Caribbean Catholic Bishops, Gabriel Malzaire had called for relief for other Caribbean islands, like Antigua and Barbuda that were hit hard by Hurricane Irma. The Bishop's letter is now relevant for Dominica as it seeks funds to recover.
"Islands like Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda need immediate financing," continued LeCompte. "In addition to delaying debt payments, islands need aid in the form of grants instead of loans."
As the UN General Assembly debate begins, Eric LeCompte spoke at a high-level side event on financing development. LeCompte spoke about improving global debt, tax, trade and transparency policies to address poverty. The event was organized by the government of France and the International Leading Group on Social and Solidarity Economy.