Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture

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This study brings readers up to date on the complicated and controversial subject of debt relief for the poorest countries of the world. What has actually been achieved? Has debt relief provided truly additional resources to fight poverty? How will the design and timing of the "enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative" affect the development prospects of the world's poorest countries and their people? The study then moves on to address several broader policy questions: Is debt relief a step toward more efficient and equitable government spending, building better institutions, and attracting productive private investment in the poorest countries? Who pays for debt relief? Is there a case for further relief? Most important, how can the case for debt relief be sustained in a broader effort to combat poverty in the poorest countries?

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Editorial Reviews

The first study published by the Institute for the new Center for Global Development, founded in November of 2001. The authors examine the economics of foreign debt and make recommendations for expanding and improving the International Monetary Fund and World Bank endorsed HIPC (heavily indebted poor country) initiative. They argue that the current initiative perversely focuses on improving the performance of recipient countries, failing to address the political and bureaucratic incentives that led donors and creditors to provide unmanageable loans. They recommend expanding debt reduction if debt servicing exceeds two percent of a country's GNP, expanding eligibility for the HIPC Initiative to all low-income countries, and the creation of ten years insurance against being pushed into unsustainability by factors beyond their control. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881323313
  • Publisher: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Publication date: 4/30/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 162
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Preface xi
1 Introduction 1
Group A versus Group B 1
Expanding Debt Relief 4
Reinventing the Aid Architecture 6
Appendix 1.1 Ten Questions about Debt and Debt Relief 8
2 The HIPC Initiative: Background and Critiques 13
The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries 19
Recent Debt Relief Initiatives 21
The Enhanced HIPC Framework 26
Critiques of the Enhanced HIPC Initiative 33
3 The Case for More 41
Debt Sustainability 41
The Millennium Development Goals 44
4 What Form of More? 49
Political Resonance 50
Additionality 55
Redistribution 61
Efficiency 66
Country Selectivity 75
Summary 78
5 Deepening and Extending Debt Reduction 79
Deeper Relief 80
Making More Countries Eligible 86
A Contingency Facility 91
Financing More Debt Relief 93
6 A New Aid Architecture 101
The HIPC Procedure 102
Grants, Not Just Loans 106
Incremental Proposals to Increase Donor Accountability 108
Donor Incentives for Selectivity 110
Exploiting Multilateralism: The Common Pool 113
Sovereign Debt: Building on the HIPC Initiative 114
7 Conclusions 115
Whether to Extend More Debt Relief 116
How to Extend the HIPC Initiative 117
Cost of the Extensions 117
Toward a New Aid Architecture 118
Appendix A Multilateral Institutions Participating in the HIPC Initiative 119
Appendix B Countries Classified by Income 121
Appendix C Odious Debt 123
References 147
Glossary 151
Index 153
Table 2.1 Resource flows to HIPCs and all developing countries, 1980-99 18
Table 2.2 Growth in HIPCs and other developing countries, 1980-99 19
Table 2.3 Heavily indebted poor countries 29
Table 2.4 Debt statistics for HIPC countries 30
Table 4.1 Project versus nonproject activity: Commitments of bilateral ODA to the HIPCs, 1973-99 70
Table 5.1 Additional reduction needed for post-decision point HIPCs that are above the 2 percent threshold 82
Table 5.2 Cost to bring all non-decision point HIPCs below the 2 percent debt-to-GNP threshold 83
Table 5.3 Cost of Eurodad proposal for limiting debt service 85
Table 5.4 Debt indicators for potential HIPCs, 1999 87
Table 5.5 Debt statistics for other low-income countries, 1999 88
Table 5.6 Cost to bring all low-income countries below the 2 percent threshold for debt service to GNP and 150 percent threshold for debt to exports 90
Table 5.7 Hypothetical cost of contingency procedure 94
Table 6.1 Continued aid dependence of post-completion point HIPCs 105
Table C.1 Odious debt: Commitments to countries considered "Not Free" and "Corrupt" 124
Table C.2 Resource flows and other indicators for the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1970-99 125
Table C.3 Resource flows and other indicators for Kenya, 1970-99 129
Table C.4 Resource flows and other indicators for Nicaragua, 1970-99 133
Table C.5 Military and social spending by Nicaragua, 1979-99 137
Table C.6 Resource flows and other indicators for Pakistan, 1970-99 140
Table C.7 Resource flows and other indicators for Uganda, 1970-99 144
Figure 2.1 ODA loans to sub-Saharan Africa, 1970-99 16
Figure 2.2 World Bank and IMF loan disbursements to low-income countries, 1970-99 17
Figure 2.3 Debt ratios of HIPCs and other developing countries 20
Figure 2.4 Evolution of ODA disbursements from EU countries, 1980-99 22
Figure 2.5 Breakdown of debt by creditor, nominal debt stock, 1999 24
Figure 2.6 Realized and projected annual growth rates, 1980-2015 39
Figure 3.1 Ratio of NPV of debt-to-export for HIPCs at the decision point, projections, and past export trends 44
Figure 3.2 "Group of Eight" by Dan Wasserman 45
Figure 4.1 Aid to low-income countries in per capita terms, 1990-99 57
Figure 4.2 The increasing aid coordination challenge 67
Figure 4.3 Aid and debt, sub-Saharan Africa, 1977-87 and 1988-98 77
Figure 5.1 Cost estimates to public sector 95
Figure 5.2 Authors' proposals 100
Box 1.1 The enhanced HIPC Initiative 2
Box 2.1 A short history of sovereign lending and default 14
Box 2.2 Debt initiatives 23
Box 3.1 The annual cost of achieving the Millennium Development Goals 47
Box 4.1 Aid accounting and debt relief 56
Box 4.2 The Central American Bank for Economic Integration 60
Box 4.3 The IMF's future role in development 62
Box 4.4 Aid does work--if... 64
Box 6.1 The PRSP challenge: Avoiding business as usual 103
Box 6.2 Assessing country performance: Selectivity using what measures? 111
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