Charities issue criticism of G20 24/09/09

Campaign groups today issued a sharp criticism of the G20's attempts to deal with the financial system in the wake of the economic crisis.

UK anti-poverty and environment groups told G20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh this weekend that the opportunity to create a fairer world was slipping through their fingers.

Jubilee Debt Campaign, War on Want, World Development Movement, Friends of the Earth and the Bretton Woods Project say that while Western leaders look for 'green shoots', the vast majority of the world's population continues to suffer the impact of a crisis caused by the excesses of the financial sector.

They argue that without significant structural reform, any new growth will be unsustainable and volatile, deepening the inequalities in the global economy.

In particular, the groups are demanding action on five key areas:

Tough action to regulate the financial sector - including prohibitions and controls on speculation, derivatives trading, complex financial instruments short-term or damaging investment, and, vitally, much stronger action to close down tax havens;

End the bonus culture - ending incentives for finance workers to create unsustainable lending and giving a fair wage for a fair day's work;

Radical reform of the global economy - most urgently the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions, ensuring they are democratic and accountable, and the creation of a debt tribunal to cancel unpayable and unjust Third World debts;

Massive investment in 'Green Jobs' - both helping the UK economy to create sustainable growth, and assisting developing countries, through grant funding and technology transfer, to develop in a sustainable manner.

A currency transaction tax to curb bank profits and bonuses. As well as restraining bank excesses. Such a tax could generate billions for developing countries to use in the fight against poverty.

Ruth Tanner from War on Want said: "The financial crisis has provided a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically overhaul the structures of global finance - to bring an end to the rule of the banks and the casino culture that has created the gross inequalities that characterise today's world.

"We need changes even bigger than those Roosevelt made as a result of the last Great Depression. Instead we are getting more of the same."

Nick Dearden from Jubilee Debt Campaign added: "While millions of people suffer the results of a crisis that was not of their making, those who are responsible are allowed to go on behaving as if nothing has happened.

"The G20 have ignored radical calls for action from the developing world - to transform the global economy, cancel debts, and stop forcing free market fundamentalism onto the majority. History will not forgive the failure of the G20 to meet this challenge."

Campaigners cited continued signs that the economic crisis is affecting millions of people and that reforms to date had done very little to create a more sustainable economy:

Up to 60 million people could be thrown out of work by end of 2009, bringing total unemployment to 240 million, 90 million of them young people; 200 million workers, mostly in developing economies, are at risk of being pushed into poverty; an additional 700,000 babies are likely to die before their first birthday as a result of the crisis – with girls making up the vast majority of this figure.

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