HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 c312W
29. John Barrett

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress the Government are making on relieving debt owed by the world's poorest countries. [29152]

Clare Short

Following a radical overhaul of the heavily indebted poor countries initiative in 1999, to ensure faster, deeper debt relief, up to $100 billion debt could be written off for the 42 HIPC countries. To date, 24 countries have qualified for this exceptional debt relief. Relief of more than $54 billion will be provided to these countries, reducing their debts by more than two-thirds on average. We hope that at least two more countries—Ghana and Sierra Leone—will qualify for debt relief in the coming months, but substantial further progress will be difficult, as many of the remaining HIPC countries are affected by conflict.

The Government have already written off their aid debts to all the poorest countries. The UK is also the second largest contributor ($306 million) to the HIPC Trust Fund to help international financial institutions meet their share of HIPC costs.