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Debt sustainability in HIPCs in a New Age of Choice: Taking stock of the debt relief initiatives and implications of the new development finance landscape for public debt sustainability

Time (GMT +01) 13:00 14:30


Edward Hedger - Director, Centre for Aid and Public Expenditure I Private Sector and Markets, ODI


Annalisa Prizzon - Research Fellow, ODI


Prof. Machiko Nissanke - Professor of Economics, SOAS, University of Lonodn
Tim Jones - Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer, Jubilee Debt Campaign


​Public debt sustainability in advanced economies is now at the top of the international agenda while external debt in developing countries is now taking on less prominence. Recent IMF/WB Debt Sustainability Analyses (DSA) classified three quarters of the heaviliy indebted poor countries (HIPCs) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) countries that benefited from debt relief in the last decade at a low or moderate risk of debt distress. Furthermore, IDA and IMF (2012) and the Jubilee Debt Campaign (2012) found that the HIPC Initiative and MDRI achieved their objectives, including (a) lower debt stock and thus debt service (possibly removing debt overhang and (re)gaining and/or expanding access to international capital markets), and (b) freeing up resources for poverty-reducing expenditure. 

Is a low or moderate risk of debt distress for most developing countries good enough news, or are the debt forecasts we observe just the tip of the iceberg? There are two important reasons for further analysis.

ODI is organizing a roundtable that will convene experts on debt issues from academia, multilateral development banks and NGOs. The scope of the roundtable is two-fold:

·      Present and debate findings emerging from a forthcoming working paper by Annalisa Prizzon and Shakira Mustapha that reflects on how new debt-creating flows will impact on debt sustainability

·      Summarize and elaborate on a series of policy recommendations for bilateral and multilateral donors as well as for partner countries in order to (i) help prevent the risk of a future debt crisis in former HIPCs, (ii) to inform the debate on UNCTAD principles on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing and (iii) on the review of the IMF’s policy on debt limit.  The summary of the discussion is expected to be published on the ODI website to reach a wider audience.