Debt Cancellation (Africa)

Treasury written question – answered on 24th February 2005.

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Photo of Mr Parmjit Gill Mr Parmjit Gill Liberal Democrat, Leicester South

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which countries in Africa have had their debts cancelled in each year since 1997.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

Since 1997, 15 countries have reached completion point in the HIPC initiative. All of these countries are now receiving irrevocable debt relief (October 2004—Madagascar; July 2004—Ghana; April 2004—Niger, Ethiopia, Senegal; January 2004—Nicaragua; December 2003—Guyana; March 2003—Benin, Mali; June 2002—Mauritania; April 2002— Burkina Faso; November 2001—Tanzania; September 2001—Mozambique; June 2001—Bolivia; May 2000—Uganda).

A further 12 countries are at decision point and are receiving interim debt relief (July 2003—Democratic Republic of Congo; March 2002—Sierra Leone; May 2001—Chad; December 2000—Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Zambia; October 2000—Cameroon; June 2000—Honduras).

In addition to those countries currently benefiting from the HIPC Initiative, the following African countries received treatments from the Paris Club involving an element of debt cancellation: 2004—Republic of Congo, Burundi; 2002—Cote d'Ivoire; 1998—Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire.

However, many countries are still having to choose between servicing their debt and investing in health, education, infrastructure and other areas necessary to allow them to attain the Millennium Development Goals. That is why the UK is proposing that we match bilateral debt relief of up to 100 per cent. with multilateral debt relief of up to 100 per cent. The UK will provide its share, approximately 10 per cent., of multilateral debt owed by eligible countries to the International Development Association and African Development Bank, and will continue to call on others to join us in this initiative.

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James Stewart
Posted on 17 Mar 2005 5:22 am (Report this annotation)

The detail with which Mr. Timms answers is useful, and it is good to hear another statement of the UK's determination to go further on debt cancellation, but this statement doesn't really answer the question implicit in the original question.

It is too simple to say that after reaching HIPC completion point a country's debts have been cancelled. HIPC provides for debt reduction, rather than cancellation, and as such many countries which have reached completion point and received the requisite reduction are still heavily indebted.

(they are probably also in a worse fiscal state after jimping the many hoops involved with Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers)