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March 07 2011

02mydafsoup-01

Support the campaign to audit Europe's public debt | Costas Lapavitsas - guardian.co.uk - 2011-03-03

   
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March 06 2011

02mydafsoup-01

CALL FOR AN AUDIT COMMISSION ON GREEK PUBLIC DEBT - Petition | www.gopetition.com 2011-02-19 (in EL & EN)

   

We the undersigned believe that there is a pressing need for an Audit Commission to examine Greek public debt. Current EU and IMF policy to deal with public debt has entailed major social costs for Greece. Consequently, the Greek people have a democratic right to demand full information on public and publicly-guaranteed debt.

The aim of the Commission will be to ascertain why public debt was incurred, the terms on which it was contracted, and the uses to which borrowed funds were put. On the basis of these considerations, the Commission will make appropriate recommendations to deal with debt, including debt that is shown to be illegal, illegitimate or odious. The purpose of the Commission will be to help Greece take all necessary measures to confront the burden of debt. The Commission will also seek to find who was responsible for problematic debt agreements.

Public and private debt is at the heart of the Eurozone crisis. The global crisis that began in 2007 took the form of a debt crisis of the periphery of the Eurozone. According to the latest government budget, Greek public debt is expected to rise from 299 billion euro (or 127% of GDP) in 2009 to 362 billion euro (or 159% of GDP) in 2011. The increase in public debt has heightened the danger of national default in the periphery of the Eurozone and raised the possibility of bank failure across Europe. The EU, in conjunction with national governments, has responded through rescue programmes that have facilitated temporary borrowing by Eurozone states and protected banks. But these measures have failed to calm financial markets and, as a result, borrowing rates have continued to rise for peripheral countries. Furthermore, the price of the programmes has been austerity. Greece, Ireland and other countries were forced to cut wages and pensions, contract public expenditure, shrink welfare provision, privatise public enterprises, and deregulate markets. Further social costs are inevitable due to higher unemployment, business failures and loss of output.

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. It can also encourage the active participation of broader layers of society in movements that tackle the problem of public debt. The Commission will be international, comprising debt and fiscal auditors, legal experts, economists, representatives of labour organisations, and participants from civil society groups. It will be independent of political parties, though it will not exclude politicians from membership provided that they accept its aims. The Commission will ensure possession of expert knowledge, while guaranteeing democratic accountability and control over all involved.

To achieve its aim the Commission ought to have full access to public debt agreements and debt issues over time, including bond issues, bilateral, multilateral, and other forms of debt and state liabilities. It ought to have requisite powers to place at its disposal all documents that it judges necessary to complete its work. It is also necessary to instigate appropriate procedures that would allow the Commission to call public functionaries to give evidence, as well as to examine, after a reasoned request and judicial support, bank accounts, particularly public accounts with private banks and with the Bank of Greece. Finally, a sufficient period of time ought to be made available to it to examine debt agreements and produce its report.

The case for an independent and international Audit Commission to examine Greek public debt is unanswerable. The Commission is also a democratic demand of the Greek people who are bearing the burden of the crisis and want to know its causes. In all respects an Audit Commission for Greece could act as prototype for other countries of the Eurozone.


Petition:
Συνυπογράφω την έκκληση της πρωτοβουλίας αύτης, όπως αυτή παρατίθεται στον πρόλογο της τρέχουσας συλλογής υπογραφών.

I also sign the appeal of this initiative, as it is layed out in the preample of this petition.


Sign the petition


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02mydafsoup-01
This morning Greek trade unions, academics and politicians issued a call to set up a Public Commission to examine their debts. It’s the first ever call for a Debt Audit in Europe. Supported by over 200 prominent Greek and international figures, it is a concrete proposal for how Greek people might begin to retake control of their economy.

[...]

Greece, like other peripheral European countries such as Ireland and Portugal, is unable to compete with its richer neighbours. Its integration into the Euro means it has no control over interest rates or exchange rates. To keep going – just like people across the US and Western Europe who are trying to get by in societies experiencing sharply rising inequality – the economy borrows. In borrowing, it makes Western European banks and investors a lot of money. French, German and British banks have lent the Greek public and private sectors €80 billion; one-third of Greece’s national income.

When the good times dry up and the banks find that they’ve lent a lot of money that can’t be repaid, the EU and IMF step in with new loans to ensure the banks do get repaid via a ‘bail-out’ package to the distressed country. Heaven forbid the banks or other lenders should take the pain. Sharp austerity packages mean the poorest shoulder the burden of their economy’s ‘adjustment’.

Indeed that’s exactly what Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said about the UK economy earlier this week: “The price of this financial crisis is being borne by people who absolutely did not cause it. Now is the period when the cost is being paid, I'm surprised that the degree of public anger has not been greater than it has." In Greece, the case is even stronger – and people are even more angry.

That’s why a broad range of civil society actors has now called for this debt to be looked into – so ordinary people have an opportunity to properly understand where the debt came from. The call, signed by Noam Chomsky, Tony Benn, Ken Loach and many economists, politicians and academics says “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.”

Such an audit would throw up some interesting questions regarding the legality (banks may have been lending in contravention of public debt rules), legitimacy (debts may have been hidden off-balance-sheet) and morality (those least responsible are now paying the highest price for that lending) of European debts.

The idea of a Debt Audit is inspired by movements in highly indebted developing countries. In 2007, President Correa of Ecuador established a Debt Audit Commission claiming his most important debt was to the people of Ecuador. In 2008, the Commission reported that Ecuador’s debts had caused “incalculable damage” to the people and environment of that country.

[...]


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Greece’s People Start To Reclaim Their Economy | Naomi Klein - 2011-03-03
02mydafsoup-01

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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.

[...]

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Jubilee Debt Campaign UK : Financial crisis : Campaigners call for Greek Debt Audit
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