The G7 countries pledged a massive scale-up in support of developing-country financing at their recent summit in the UK. How it will be financed remains an open question. But analyzing trends in recent debt flows by lenders to developing countries, and taking stock of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), can provide some important lessons for the G7’s new ambitions.
CGD Policy Blogs
The latest G20 finance ministers meeting concluded with no major progress on debt relief for the world’s poorest countries, and a few setbacks. To date, no country eligible for the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative has requested a moratorium on their private sector debt. We are at an impasse.
Revisiting HIPC as Part of the COVID-19 Response: How did Commercial Debt Relief for Poorest Countries Work Last Time?
The G20 is calling on commercial creditors to follow their lead and extend a moratorium on their debt. But if past is precedent external commercial debt could be shaping up to be major fault line in the debt relief process moving forward.
Debt relief for low-income countries is on the table of measures to consider for coronavirus response. The imperative right now is to get cash to LICs as quickly as possible. Suspending some debt service payments may be a good first step in freeing up some budget space for new spending. Beyond that, protracted debt-relief negotiations with multilateral and commercial creditors right now could be a distraction at best but could also actively undermine the ability of institutions like the World Bank to offer new financing for crisis response.
The experience of the 2007 global financial crisis can tell us a few things about how low-income countries could be affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the near term, even as we recognize that the myriad economic problems created by the pandemic are almost certainly greater in number and scale than the problems in 2007.
This week, Liberians celebrated in the streets – faces painted, drums blaring, and dancing with abandon. They’re not rejoicing over some recent triumph by the Liberian soccer team or a local festival. The streets of Monrovia were overflowing because of debt relief. That’s right, debt relief. On Tuesday, Liberia secured nearly $5 billion in irrevocable debt relief from the World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank, and bilateral creditors. It’s a massive sum
This is a joint post with Benjamin Leo.
A special new lending facility was announced in July 2009 with the objective of providing up to $17 billion in new loans through 2014 and, to entice cash-strapped borrowers, the lender is waiving interest payments for the first two years. This may sound like dangerous new short-term teaser offers for sub-prime borrowers. But this isn’t coming from Countrywide Financial. It actually is a new IMF facility for low-income countries, including some of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) who are just barely coming out of the last debt crisis.
The stated objectives of the new IMF facility are laudable: to offset the effects of the global economic crisis by boosting international reserves and supporting adjustment policies. And yes, the overall terms are more concessional than past IMF loans. Nonetheless, the net impact on national debt levels may be significant. And it was just four years ago that the IMF committed to cancel roughly $6 billion in bad loans to many of these very same countries.