Campaigners call for Greek Debt Audit

‘Public commission would help put Greek people in charge of economy’

Today, more than 200 prominent Greek and international figures launch a call to audit Greece’s debts. Economists, activists, academics and parliamentarians from across the world are demanding the establishment of a Public Commission to examine the debts that lie at the root of Greece’s crisis. The Commission would look at the legality and legitimacy of those debts, with a view to negotiating better terms and holding to account those responsible for unjust debts.

Debt audits have been used across the world to allow civil society to hold to account those responsible for the damage caused by their country’s indebtedness. An audit in Ecuador in 2008 encouraged President Correa to default on some of Ecuador’s most unjust debt, leading to a write-down by borrowers. Two former Ecuadorian ministers have signed the call to support an audit in Greece, alongside Members of the European Parliament, international economists and academics and civil society representatives.

Campaigners are angry that Greece’s debt has mushroomed since the financial crisis in 2008, and believe Greece’s levels of debts are unsustainable. They argue that austerity measures are forcing the poorest in society to pay for the economic problems caused by the financial collapse in 2008.

The call, which will be launched in Athens at 12.00 (Central European Time) states:

“Greece has been at the forefront of EU rescue programmes, but the Greek people have been kept in the dark regarding the composition and terms of public debt. The lack of information represents a fundamental failure of the democratic process. The people who are called upon to bear the costs of EU programmes have a democratic right to receive full information on public debt. An Audit Commission can begin to redress this deficiency.”

Nick Dearden from Jubilee Debt Campaign said:

“In Greece as elsewhere, ordinary people are being made to pay for the recklessness and greed of the banks through harsh austerity measures. The banks have been allowed to gamble with the lives and livelihoods of the poor for too long. It is time people stood up against the power of finance and put themselves back in charge of their own economies. In Greece, as throughout the developing world, a debt audit commission is a vital step towards a more just financial system.”  

Øygunn Brynildsen from the European Network on Debt and Development said:

“Failing to hold lenders to account for reckless behaviour combined with a lack of transparency encourages bad lending and investments, and ultimately, chronic and unjust debt.”

NOTES:

1. Jubilee Debt Campaign is the UK coalition campaigning for 100% cancellation of unjust and unpayable poor country debts. For more information see: https://jubileedebt.org.uk/.

2. The call requires that a Debt Audit Commission be international, comprising debt and fiscal auditors, legal experts, economists, representatives of labour organisations, and participants from civil society groups. It should be independent of political parties, though it should not exclude politicians from membership provided that they accept its aims. The Commission should ensure possession of expert knowledge, while guaranteeing democratic accountability and control. It should examine all debt including: bond issues, bilateral, multilateral, and other forms of debt and state liabilities.

3. Ecuador’s Debt Audit Commission was established by President Correa in 2007 and reported in 2008, finding that Ecuador’s debts has caused “incalculable damage” to the people and environment of the country. The audit was used as justification for Correa defaulting on some of Ecuador’s bonds which the audit found had been contracted illegally. Correa is said to be poised to examine more of Ecuador’s debts. For more information on Ecuador’s debt audit go to:http://www.auditoriadeuda.org.ec/.

4. Signatories to the call include:

A.Acosta, Ex-Ministro de Energía y Minas (Ecuador), Ex-Presidente de la Asamblea Constituyente, Economista, profesor universitario
N. Álvarez, Economist, Researcher at Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
M. Canese, Vice-Ministre des Mines, Paraguay
C.P. Chandrashekhar, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
F. Chesnais, Economist, Professeur Émérite de l’Université Paris-Nord
N. Chomsky, Institute Professor (retired), MIT
N. Chountis, Member of European Parliament, SYRIZA, Greece, GUE/NGL
A.Cibils, Economist, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina
G. Dymski, Economist, University of California, Riverside
J. Ghosh, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
J.M. Harribey, Economist, Université Bordeaux IV, ex-president of ATTAC
R.Kammer, Professeur de danse classique, ex soliste à l’Opéra de Bonn, première danseuse et  directrice du ballet d’Athènes
Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament, Green Group
P. Paez, ex-Ministro de Economía de Ecuador
A.Puyana, Professor of Economics, senior researcher at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), México
J. Reis, Economist, Director of the Economics Faculty, Coimbra University, Portugal
E.Toussaint, PhD Political Science, Liege University, President CADTM (Belgium)
N.Villalba, Membre du Conseil Juridique international de la pPésidence de la République du Paraguay
M.Weisbrot, Economist, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington DC
J. Ziegler, Vice-President of the Advisory Committee of the UN Council of Human Rights
S.Zizek, Institute for Social Studies, Ljubljana

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