Pope Francis deepens call for poor country debt cancellation


Pope Francis renewed has called for the cancellation of debt owed by poor countries in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it was time for restorative justice.

The pope is preparing for an audience with the public on Wednesday, his first since the pandemic hit Italy nearly six months ago.

“I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impact of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19,” the Roman Catholic Church’s highest official said.

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“We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages.

“It is a time for restorative justice.”

In April, the Argentinian-born pontiff called for debt to be reduced or cancelled in a message from an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica.

On Tuesday he said: “Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met.”

The World Bank warned last month that coronavirus may have driven as many as 100 million people into extreme poverty.

The situation made it “imperative” that creditors reduce the amount of debt held by poor countries, the Washington-based institution’s president David Malpass warned.

Advanced economies in the Group of 20 have already committed to suspending debt payments from the poorest nations until the end of the year.

There is growing support for extending that moratorium into next year amid a pandemic that has already killed more than 840,000 people and registered 25.2 million cases globally.