HC Deb 28 July 2000 vol 354 cc1027-8W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the size of Government debt repayment from the HIPC countries in 1996–97; what he estimates the debt repayment will be in 2000–01; and to what extent such repayments will be recycled into(a) primary healthcare and (b) AIDS care and prevention in these countries. [131626]

Miss Melanie Johnson

[holding answer 24 July 2000]: The total amount received from HIPCs in 1996–97 was £29.4 million. Under the UK's policy of 100 per cent. debt forgiveness once countries have reached decision point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, they can immediately stop making payments on all their debts outstanding to the UK Government.

So far nine countries have reached their decision point, of which eight owed money to the UK. For these countries all payments to the UK Government have already ceased. In total the debt relief to these countries afforded by the HIPC initiative and the Government's 100 per cent. debt relief policy will add up to £241 million.

A further 11 countries are expected to reach decision point by the end of 2000. If they did the total amount that the UK Government would be writing off for these 20 countries would be £659 million. The total payments due for payment in 2000–01 depends entirely on how quickly countries reach decision point, and hence how many benefit from the UK's policy of 100 per cent. debt relief.

Under the enhanced HIPC initiative, debt relief is tied much more closely to poverty reduction. Countries are developing national poverty reduction strategies as part of their qualification for debt relief. Countries will examine causes of poverty and opportunities for tackling it. The Poverty Reduction Strategy of an individual country will often identify primary healthcare and HIV/AIDS as priority areas for government action and increased resources. But many competing claims for additional resources, and it is up to the governments of the HIPC countries themselves to decide how to balance these, in discussion with key stakeholders.