The Debt-Relief Initiative for Poor Countries

Good news for the poor?

Gustav Ranis & Frances Stewart

Published: September 2001

This paper reviews the new debt-relief initiative for Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) designed to reduce the debt burden of potentially 36 poor countries. It finds that the HIPC initiative is not likely to make a major contribution to the problems of the world’s poor. It offers limited and highly conditional resources, most of which are not likely to be additional to existing resource flows; the resources are not distributed according to need; and the policy packages accompanying HIPC are unlikely to do much for the major development problems that are constraining these countries’ development efforts. A major problem with the initiative is that it excludes all the populous poor countries, so that the vast majority of the poor of the world will not be touched by it.

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