Pope Francis on Tuesday, called for the cancellation of debt owed by poor countries in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, saying “It is a time for restorative justice”.
“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 stressed.
“We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages. Policy, legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social and environmental goals are met”, he added.
The pope is preparing for an audience with the public on Wednesday, his first since the pandemic hit Italy nearly six months ago.
In April, the Argentinean-born pontiff had called for debt cancellation in a message from an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica.
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.