G20 seeks ‘urgent action’ from US on budget impasse

G20 seeks ‘urgent action’ from US on budget impasse

WASHINGTON - Finance chiefs of the G20 on Friday called for Washington to quickly resolve the political paralysis over its budget and debt ceiling.

Singling the United States out in a statement on the issues confronting global finance, representatives of the world's most powerful economies signalled worry about the stalemate that could potentially force Washington to default on its debt.

"The US needs to take urgent action to address short-term fiscal uncertainties," the G20 finance ministers and central bankers - including those fromt he United States - said in a statement. Meeting in Washington, the officials warned that there were still risks to global economic growth, and that many countries faced "unacceptably high unemployment."

Asked about the G20 views of the US political stalemate, Anton Siluanov, the Russian finance minister whose country holds the presidency of the group this year, said they were mostly optimistic about the US reaching a timely solution to the problem of passing a budget and increasing the debt ceiling. "We wish for this crisis to be resolved as soon as possible," he said in a press conference.

"No one benefits from... uncertainty," he said, speaking through a translator. "That is because it has an impact on everybody... everybody has a stake in this matter."

Earlier, in an inadvertently broadcast portion of the closed meeting of the G20 officials, Siluanov was more direct: speaking for Moscow, he urged his US counterpart to resolve the political deadlock, which threatens to force the US to default on its debt, "as quickly as possible." At that point he expressed doubts that the White House and congressional Republicans were close to a compromise.

"There doesn't seem to be a prospect for that," he said. The G20 group met in Washington on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, where the threat to the global economy of Washington's political paralysis overshadowed other issues. Worries were rampant that the US Congress would not pass a budget bill to fund the government, which has been partly shut down since the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1 - or raise the country's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling by October 17, when the government says it will run out of cash to pay its bills.

"Based on what our American colleagues told us, we hope for a speedy resolution by the October 17 deadline," Siluanov said in the press conference. A senior US Treasury official told journalists they were not opposed to the G20 statement, underscoring that they too see the urgent need for Congress to pass a budget and raise the debt ceiling.

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