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Dr Rowan Williams calls for greater international debt cancellation

Former Archbishop of Canterbury says a ‘real effort’ to tackle tax justice is needed

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams said there is need for greater international debt cancellation.

He called for a ‘real effort’ to tackle tax justice and more serious international debt cancellation. Dr Williams said ethical considerations had been continually ignored by those in charge of debt.

He said: “Borrowing and lending are traditionally to do with the management of crisis. When people, can’t produce for themselves, a generous society, encourages others to supply it.” Speaking at a conference in London on Saturday organised by the Jubilee Debt Group, he said: “Debt has evolved internationally and domestically over the years and it is safe to say that pretty much all of these principles have been ignored and side-lined, again and again, in every possible way.”

According to Dr Williams, it was this approach that was widening the wealth inequality in society and would not be stopped unless “clear” and “intentional” decisions were taken to limit the powers of lenders. Failure to take such an approach had resulted in the landscape of debt being ‘backward looking,” he insisted.

Dr Williams, who led the Church of England for over a decade, said: “There is always going to be a danger of a spiral of asymmetry, which is where the gap between creditors and debtors gets wider and wider. There is no particular reason why this should ever stop, that is unless we decide try and stop it. We have to put in place policies limit that spiral.”

Dr Williams was also critical of those global corporations that are able to evade paying the full amount of tax through finding loopholes in the tax laws of certain nations.

He said: “Tax justice is another key area that needs to be dealt with. There are companies that do not pay adequate levels of tax in the countries where they operate.  That is another obligation that is not being addressed and not being dealt with.”