Jubilee Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to global debt justice released today in ‘Scotland’s Future’, the white paper on independence. In this, debt relief is highlighted as a priority for international development, with the statement:
“The Scottish Government will give careful consideration to the question of “unjust” debts; will work to ensure that Scottish export policies do not create new unjust debts; and support moves to establish Scotland as an international centre for debt arbitration”
While remaining neutral on the issue of Scottish independence, Jubilee Scotland congratulates the Government on its recognition of sovereign debt as a key issue for Scotland’s international development policy.
The UK government is currently owed over ?2 billion in debt, and if the Scottish people vote for independence in 2014, Scotland will inherit a share of this. Much of this debt is owed by extremely vulnerable countries including Angola, Peru and Pakistan, and in many cases originates from arms deals with dictators or ‘white elephant’ projects which do not benefit the citizens of the country in question.
Debt campaigners have consistently called for an audit of these debts, and the cancellation of any which are found to be unjust – allowing governments of poor nations to invest in their citizens rather than paying off bad loans. While the Scottish Government’s commitment to consider the question of unjust debts is a step in the right direction, their commitment should go further by pledging to hold an audit of all debts inherited by the UK. The UK Government have so far refused to audit the debts owed to them, with Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills saying in February 2013:
“The Government has no plans to conduct an audit of debts owed to UK Export Finance”
Alys Mumford, Campaign Director of Jubilee Scotland said:
“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to debt justice and will continue to work with both the Scottish and UK Governments to achieve an end to unjust global debt systems which keep people in poverty”.
Jubilee Scotland is a coalition of Scottish NGOs and civil society organisations campaigning for an end to unjust global debt.
Jubilee Scotland’s paper outlining their asks for debt justice in both a yes and no vote, and responses by the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns can be found here.
The Scottish Government’s commitment appears in chapter 6, available here.