Agencies question G20 ‘triumph’

by
01 April 2009

by Bill Bowder

Handling it: police struggle to control protesters outside the Bank of England at Wednesday lunchtime PA

Handling it: police struggle to control protesters outside the Bank of England at Wednesday lunchtime PA

THE TRIUMPHAL end of the G20 leaders’ meeting in London, and its pledge of $1.1 trillion of fiscal support, was questioned by aid agencies yesterday (Thursday).

The leaders agreed that, besides fresh plans to stimulate the global economy and action to close tax havens, at total of $750 billion would be made available to the International Monetary Fund to support struggling economies. A key element of the plan was to increase the funding available to developing countries hit by the global downturn.

Who will benefit from the new plan, and how, will not be clear for some time, campaigners were saying yesterday. The Put People First Coalition, a group of 160 organisations, including the TUC, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Tearfund, ActionAid, World Vision, and Friends of the Earth, asked whether the package was enough of a break from the “failed policies that brough about the global crisis”.



A member of the coalition, the Jubilee Debt Campaign, welcomed the G20 recommitment to debt relief, and asked that money generated by the projected sale of gold held by the IMF be directed at debt relief.

Jubilee also expressed concern at the strings that might be attached to IMF loans. “It is imperative that the IMF immediately stops attaching damaging austerity conditions to its funding, and that funding for the poorest countries comes mainly in the form of grants.” Little of the $750 billion being made available through the IMF would go to the poorest countries, Jubilee predicted.

Other agencies were disappointed by the G20 leaders’ failure to tie financial support to anti-climate-change measures. Paul Cook, advocacy director at Tearfund, said: “With no clear commitment to ensure that stumulus money is investedin low-carbon technology, the world risks a recovery which is based in business as usual. It locks us into a path which will result in runaway climate change and devastating impacts for the world’s poorest community.”

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BEFORE THE MEETING, a statement from Oxfam had called on the G20 leaders to make “a massive difference to the world’s poorest people by diverting a tiny fraction of the bail-out money to provide an economic stimulus, social safety-nets, and health services for those affected by the economic crisis.

And in an earlier communiqué, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the leaders of Britain’s other main Churches and faiths, had said that political and religious leaders had a duty “to look at the faces of the poor around the world and act with justice, to think with compassion and to look with hope to a sustainable vision of the future”.

In general, religious leaders said they wanted to see a recovery of “that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity, and the moral requirements to safeguard human dignity, regardless of economic or social category”.

The World Bank has estimated that 53 million more people could fall into absolute poverty because of the financial crisis. The church leaders said: “More will face significant hardship before it comes to an end, and those who are already poor suffer the most.”

At the roots of the crisis lay important moral issues, they said: a concern for the work that people did, the aspirations of both rich and poor, realistic expectations, and a pattern of work rooted in human dignity. People who had lost jobs, savings, or homes, or were worried about the future needed immediate help as well as sustainable, secure employment.

The Put People First campaign had gathered for a “March for Jobs, Justice and Climate” in central London on Saturday.

Before the march, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, addressed worshippers in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. He said Christians could help politicians “enlarge their room for manoeuvre” by showing that they had a passion for justice.



“This is an interconnected world,” he told campaigners. “If we take more than our fair share of the earth’s resources, and in particular contribute to climate change, then it is the most vulnerable and poorest people who will suffer first. Loving God is expressed and tested in our love of our neighbour. And in an interconnected world, the people of Bangladesh are our neighbours. The unborn are also our neighbours.”

BEFORE THE MEETING, a statement from Oxfam had called on the G20 leaders to make “a massive difference to the world’s poorest people by diverting a tiny fraction of the bail-out money to provide an economic stimulus, social safety-nets, and health services for those affected by the economic crisis.

And in an earlier communiqué, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the leaders of Britain’s other main Churches and faiths, had said that political and religious leaders had a duty “to look at the faces of the poor around the world and act with justice, to think with compassion and to look with hope to a sustainable vision of the future”.

In general, religious leaders said they wanted to see a recovery of “that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity, and the moral requirements to safeguard human dignity, regardless of economic or social category”.

The World Bank has estimated that 53 million more people could fall into absolute poverty because of the financial crisis. The church leaders said: “More will face significant hardship before it comes to an end, and those who are already poor suffer the most.”

At the roots of the crisis lay important moral issues, they said: a concern for the work that people did, the aspirations of both rich and poor, realistic expectations, and a pattern of work rooted in human dignity. People who had lost jobs, savings, or homes, or were worried about the future needed immediate help as well as sustainable, secure employment.

The Put People First campaign had gathered for a “March for Jobs, Justice and Climate” in central London on Saturday.

Before the march, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, addressed worshippers in the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. He said Christians could help politicians “enlarge their room for manoeuvre” by showing that they had a passion for justice.



“This is an interconnected world,” he told campaigners. “If we take more than our fair share of the earth’s resources, and in particular contribute to climate change, then it is the most vulnerable and poorest people who will suffer first. Loving God is expressed and tested in our love of our neighbour. And in an interconnected world, the people of Bangladesh are our neighbours. The unborn are also our neighbours.”

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