Dictator Debt Die-in at Dodgy Deals Department
It was another chance to keep up the pressure on Vince Cable to cancel the dictator debts that have resulted from the department backing arms sales to dictatorships.
Campaigners braved the rain to take part in the protest as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which included actions across the UK and the world.
Vince Cable overseas UK Export Finance, which provides financial backing for companies to export their goods overseas. Too often this has meant supporting huge, damaging projects with little regard for the human rights or environment in the country concerned. Backing arms sales has formed a significant part of the department’s history.
Vince Cable’s Department for Dodgy Deals: UK Export Finance
Here’s how the department works, using Egypt as an example.
An arms exporter wants to sell a large amount of weapons, but the government they want to sell to is short of money. The arms company gets UK Export Finance to back a bank loan to the foreign government to buy the weapons. Military equipment was sold to Dictator Hosni Mubarak’s regime in this way.
If the foreign government is unable to meet its debt repayments, UK Export Finance bails out the bank, and the debt comes to be owed to the UK. When Egypt failed to pay its debt, the UK government paid off the bank and added this to the amount Egypt owes the UK.
Egypt now owes the UK £100m, which includes debt for the sale of military equipment.
The Egyptian people had no say in the creation of this debt, but despite the overthrow of Mubarak, the UK government is still insisting that the debt is repaid.
What we are calling for
We are calling for a full public audit of the department’s debts, and the cancellation of dictator debts and other debts which resulted from projects which did not benefit people in the country concerned.
Jubilee Debt Campaign, and Campaign Against Arms Trade, also call for a ‘prohibitions list’ of activities which should not be supported by the department, including arms exports.