President Ramaphosa calls for a two-year global debt standstill

AU chair Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the world's richest nations to agree to a two-year debt standstill to ease the impact of the pandemic on the African economy.

President Ramaphosa calls for a two-year global debt standstill

South African President and Chairperson of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a two-year standstill on all bilateral and multilateral debt.

Ramaphosa said that the African Union had engaged both the G20 summit leaders as well as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on the subject.

Ramaphosa urges a united response to the pandemic

The South African head of state revealed this in his opening statements to a virtual conference with Heads of State and Government of countries neighbouring South Africa on responses to the global pandemic.

In addressing neighbouring heads of state Ramaphosa revealed they had requested a Special Drawing Rights Allocation to Africa.

An SDR allocation is a low-cost way of adding to IMF members’ international reserves, allowing them to reduce their reliance on more expensive domestic or external debt for building reserves.

“We have addressed the virtual Summit of the G20 and a virtual joint meeting of the World Bank and IMF, where we called for, among other measures, the allocation of more Special Drawing Rights Allocations to Africa to provide much-needed liquidity to central banks, the corporate sector and SMEs,” Ramaphosa said on Friday 8 May 2020.

“We argued for a waiver of all interest payments on multilateral and bilateral debt. 

“This would provide the necessary fiscal space for African governments to devote all available resources to response and recovery.”

South African president calls for a two-year debt standstill

Ramaphosa said that the international community were positive about supporting global recovery, but the IMF and World Bank were currently only amenable to a nine-month debt standstill.

“In general, the response from the international community has been positive with various partners making pledges, offering debt relief measures and providing concrete support in the form of medical supplies.

“While the World Bank and the IMF have supported a debt standstill for nine months, we believe that – given the extent of the anticipated damage – we will need a debt standstill for two years.”

Last month the G20 agreed to a debt service standstill on bilateral loans for a group of 76 low-income countries. Private creditors were not asked to participate in this debt standstill. 

The path of recovery and reconstruction

Ramaphosa urged heads of state to continue to cooperate as Africa navigates the global health crisis.

“I am certain that, working together, we will be able to better protect the health, the well-being and the lives of our people.

“We will be able not only to overcome this grave health emergency but also place our countries on a path of recovery and reconstruction.” 

Also read: President Ramaphosa to parole almost 19 000 prisoners

Source : The South African More   

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Lamola: Low-risk ‘petty crime’ offenders to be considered for parole

President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the parole of almost 19 000 low-risk offenders. What constitutes a petty crime though?

Lamola: Low-risk ‘petty crime’ offenders to be considered for parole

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, on Friday 8 May, announced that low-risk offenders — offenders who may have committed petty crimes — will be considered for parole by the various parole boards. 

This comes just after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the parole of almost 19 000 prisoners in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. With overcrowding in many South African prisons, the decision has come as an absolute necessity for social distancing and places of isolation. 

Lamola briefed the media on Friday on the special COVID-19 parole dispensation. He said prisoners are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. There are currently 172 cases in correctional facilities across the country. 

LOW-RISK PETTY CRIME OFFENDERS TO BE CONSIDERED 

Lamola assured South Africans that only low-risk petty crime offenders would be considered for parole. He said these offenders will reach their Minimum Detention Periods within the next five years. 

But what exactly constitutes a petty crime? What constitutes low-risk? 

According to Lamola, petty crimes can be classified as “crimes of need” like shoplifting, and trespassing. Low-risk offenders were classified as “non-violent offenders”.

In other words, prisoners convicted of crimes such as sexual offences, murder, attempted murder, gender-based violence and child abuse, will not be liable for parole.

Inmates sentenced to life imprisonment will also not be considered for parole. 

Lamola said the low-risk individuals and their crimes have been carefully scrutinised. There must also be a plan in place for relatives or people at a home address to receive the prisoner. 

The parolees will be monitored and observed and recalled if necessary. 

RAMAPHOSA AUTHORISES PAROLE OF ALMOST 19 000 PRISONERS 

A statement released by the presidency on Friday 8 May prepared the country and its citizens for Ramaphosa’s decision. 

“The president has taken this decision in terms of Section 82(1)(a) of the Correctional Services Act of 1998 which empowers the President to authorise at any time the placement on correctional supervision or parole of any sentenced prisoner,” it said. 

“The decision taken by the president to combat the spread of COVID-19 in correctional centres could relieve our correctional services facilities of just under 19 000 inmates out of a population of 155 000,” it added. 

Source : The South African More   

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