Nations where 3.3bn live spend more on debt than health, schools

Cover-Photo_edited Debt - education & health

Given the fact that our youngest Marist Units, who have the most vocations, are in countries most affected by Global Debt – I would like to present this article [from Aljazeera] for our awareness.

Extract: "In Africa, the amount spent on interest payments is higher than spending on either education or health. Developing countries in Asia and Oceania [excluding China] are allocating more funds to interest payments than to health,"  "Similarly in Latin America"

Almost half of humanity lives in countries that spend more servicing interest on debt than health or education, UN says.

Approximately 3.3 billion people – almost half of humanity – now live in countries that spend more money paying interest on their debts than on education or health, according to a new United Nations report.

"Half our world is sinking into a development disaster, fueled by a crushing debt crisis," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told a press conference launching a report on Wednesday [12th July] on the state of the world's debt.

"In 2022, global public debt reached a record $92 trillion and developing countries shoulder a disproportionate amount," the UN chief said.

Because such a "crushing debt crisis" is concentrated mostly in poor developing countries, it is "not judged to pose a systemic risk to the global financial system", Guterres said. "This is a mirage," he said.

Financial markets may seem not to be suffering yet – but billions of people are and the levels of public debt "are staggering and surging", he added. According to the report, the number of countries facing high debt levels has increased sharply from 22 nations in 2011 to 59 in 2022. And a total of 52 countries, almost 40 percent of the developing world, are in serious debt trouble, Guterres noted.

"In Africa, the amount spent on interest payments is higher than spending on either education or health. Developing countries in Asia and Oceania [excluding China] are allocating more funds to interest payments than to health," the report states.

World leaders listen to opening speeches at the New Global Financial Pact Summit in Paris. Vatican News photo: 22 June 2023

"Similarly, in Latin America and the Caribbean, developing countries are devoting more money to interest payments rather than to investment. Across the world, rising debt burdens are keeping countries from investing in sustainable development," it adds. Guterres said a growing share of debt is held by private creditors who charge sky-high interest rates to developing countries.

As an example, he cited African countries that on average pay four times more for borrowing than the United States and eight times more than the wealthiest European countries.

The report says public debt has reached "colossal levels" largely due to two factors: First, countries' financial needs soared as they tried to fend off the impact of cascading crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, the rising cost of living and climate change; and second, the global financial architecture "makes developing countries' access to financing inadequate and expensive".

Guterres told reporters that the International Monetary Fund says 36 countries are on "so-called `debt row' – either in, or at high risk of debt distress". "Another 16 are paying unsustainable interest rates to private creditors [and] a total of 52 countries – almost 40 percent of the developing world – are in serious debt trouble."

UN trade chief Rebeca Grynspan stressed on Wednesday "the sheer magnitude and speed at which public debt has grown", pointing to a more than fivefold surge since 2000, "significantly outpacing global GDP [gross domestic product] growth that has only tripled in the same period".

Regionally, between 2010 and 2022, the amount of government debt increased by almost four times in Asia and the Pacific, three times in Africa, 2.5 times in Europe and Central Asia, and 1.6 times in Latin America and the Caribbean, Armida Alisjahbana, executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, told reporters.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
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Comments 5

Guest
Guest - Paul Frechette on Monday, 07 August 2023 03:33

Poverty takes on all shapes and sizes in so many countries.

Poverty takes on all shapes and sizes in so many countries.
Guest
Guest - Paul on Monday, 07 August 2023 09:49

thanks Ben andCo for keeping us aware of the dimensions of the challenges facing our world and ourselves. It would be good to hear if thee is anything we "ordinary folk" can do to contribute to a solution, other thansharing hat we know with others ... perhaps a future blog might address the little steps that can be taken to address such enormous problems ....

thanks Ben andCo for keeping us aware of the dimensions of the challenges facing our world and ourselves. It would be good to hear if thee is anything we "ordinary folk" can do to contribute to a solution, other thansharing hat we know with others ... perhaps a future blog might address the little steps that can be taken to address such enormous problems ....
Ben sm on Monday, 07 August 2023 10:01

Thank you Ben for putting this shocking article together ... many countries through these exorbitant rates have repaid the original debt several times over.
What can we do on the face of such colossal injustice ?
Small steps ...
Catherine

Thank you Ben for putting this shocking article together ... many countries through these exorbitant rates have repaid the original debt several times over. What can we do on the face of such colossal injustice ? Small steps ... Catherine
Ben sm on Monday, 07 August 2023 10:06

Thank You Catherine, and Paul.
Yes, I agree. The first step, which is why I posted the blog, is the awareness: as Pope Francis says: “to allow ourselves to feel the pain of the other”. Perhaps one step is to ask our major superiors where they are investing the funds of the Society of Mary: to make sure it is not going to companies and governments that are part of this oppression?
Ben

Thank You Catherine, and Paul. Yes, I agree. The first step, which is why I posted the blog, is the awareness: as Pope Francis says: “to allow ourselves to feel the pain of the other”. Perhaps one step is to ask our major superiors where they are investing the funds of the Society of Mary: to make sure it is not going to companies and governments that are part of this oppression? Ben
Ben sm on Wednesday, 09 August 2023 07:32

What an encouraging email, Ben. It reminded me of the worldwide concern about debt on the eve of the millennial year, which was widely being renamed as the biblical year of Jubilee. It generated the largest coalition in Washington that I have ever seen working--70 groups in the room, often in chaos because they included strongly political groups, even Marxist, intellectuals, NGOs from everywhere, and a host of catholic missionary groups. It finally ended in unanimous support of the United Nations' international millennial year goals with work at the UN for a number of matters, but debt a principal one. The Columban Office of JP here in town was already a very effective JP office, but they had set up a very professional “Debt Office” some years earlier and were much in the leadership of this group. This critical issue for any real development to proceed still requires some path out of the evil web of debt by forgiveness by the wealthy nations. The World Bank also turned out to be on the wrong side of the issues. But now when you have China deliberately loading countries up with debt so impossible to ever pay back so that they can kept them in suffrage in Africa and even Oceania, Mexico, and Latin America, it has become a cold, brutal and ruthless strategy. Do you think the Society will be taking up at least a watchful concern on this issue? It is the one behind all the other poverty and development issues. Would this make a good Today’s Marist article? - Ted Keating

What an encouraging email, Ben. It reminded me of the worldwide concern about debt on the eve of the millennial year, which was widely being renamed as the biblical year of Jubilee. It generated the largest coalition in Washington that I have ever seen working--70 groups in the room, often in chaos because they included strongly political groups, even Marxist, intellectuals, NGOs from everywhere, and a host of catholic missionary groups. It finally ended in unanimous support of the United Nations' international millennial year goals with work at the UN for a number of matters, but debt a principal one. The Columban Office of JP here in town was already a very effective JP office, but they had set up a very professional “Debt Office” some years earlier and were much in the leadership of this group. This critical issue for any real development to proceed still requires some path out of the evil web of debt by forgiveness by the wealthy nations. The World Bank also turned out to be on the wrong side of the issues. But now when you have China deliberately loading countries up with debt so impossible to ever pay back so that they can kept them in suffrage in Africa and even Oceania, Mexico, and Latin America, it has become a cold, brutal and ruthless strategy. Do you think the Society will be taking up at least a watchful concern on this issue? It is the one behind all the other poverty and development issues. Would this make a good Today’s Marist article? - Ted Keating
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