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Third World Debt

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 22 May 2003

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To ask the Minister of State for International Development what progress has been made on the eradication of third world debt during the last three years; and if she will make a statement. [114851]

To date, 26 countries out of a total of 37 eligible countries have qualified for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, and will receive over US$62 billion in debt relief. Of these, eight countries (Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda) have reached Completion Point and have received an irrevocable reduction in their stock of debt. The other 18 (Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia) have reached Decision Point and are receiving interim relief on their debt servicing payments. During this stage of the process, these countries are no longer required to make any further payments on the debt to be written off. We expect most of these 18 countries to reach Completion Point within the next two years when they, too, will receive full debt relief. It is difficult to predict when the remaining 11 countries will qualify for HIPC relief, as many are still affected by conflict and governance problems. We expect the Democratic Republic of Congo to reach its Decision Point in the coming months, and the Central African Republic, Comoros and Cote d'Ivoire to do so later this year but, in some cases, this will depend on progress towards peace. The other countries (Burundi, Congo Republic, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Togo) are a long way from qualifying, as they are affected by conflict or have serious governance concerns.