HIPC winds down amid controversy

7 February 2012

The World Bank and IMF’s joint Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative is winding down as its objectives “have largely been reached”. A late November IMF board meeting has agreed to maintain the eligibility of some countries, but essentially closed the programme to new countries and ended reporting on its implementation. Since its inception in 1996, 32 countries had $120 billion of debt cancelled, largely paid for from the aid budgets of donor countries. However, seven countries that have completed HIPC and eight low-income countries deemed ineligible are still judged to be at high risk of debt distress. Tim Jones of UK NGO Jubilee Debt Campaign did not lament the end of the programme, which he says “has helped to enhance the power of the IMF and World Bank to determine economic policies, and allowed private creditors off scot free. Measures, such as an international debt court and capital controls are needed to bring finance under control and end the scourge of recurrent debt crises.”