HC Deb 04 November 2003 vol 412 cc609-10W
Mr. Edwards

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what proportion of debt repayments which are made by developing countries and are received by the UK are(a) channelled to non-governmental organisations, (b) channelled to departmental aid programmes and (c) absorbed by the Exchequer. [135064]

John Healey

I have been asked to reply.

Over 90 per cent. of sovereign debt payments to the Government relates to recoveries and interest payable to the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) under Bilateral Debt Rescheduling agreements in respect of defaulted export contracts.

With the exception of an amount, averaging less than 1.6 per cent. per annum, which is passed on to ECGD's policyholders as their part of the recovery, all the receipts are paid into the Consolidated Fund.

The Department for International Development (DfID) also receives some repayments on aid. The principal repayments are channelled to the DfID bilateral aid programme. Repayments of interest are paid into the Consolidated Fund.

The UK Government are committed to providing debt relief for the most heavily indebted countries in the world through the rapid and full implementation of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, ensuring that it delivers a robust exit from unsustainable debt for the world's poorest countries. The UK has already made a commitment to provide 100 per cent. relief on debts for all eligible HIPC countries when they reach Completion point. Furthermore, the Chancellor has announced that any payments from countries yet to reach Decision Point will be held in trust for the day they can be returned to fund poverty reduction. The HIPC Initiative has an important role to play in maximising the resources available for poverty reduction in developing countries. However, all HIPC countries would still need additional aid to meet the Millennium Development Goals, even if all of their debt from the World bank and IMF were forgiven. That is why the UK's proposal for an International Finance Facility is so important. It can provide the much-needed substantial increase in resources that debt relief alone would not achieve and that could be disbursed by way of grants and additional debt relief.