§ Mr. Bercow
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many countries he expects to reach completion point for the purposes of debt relief by the end of 2004. 
§ Hilary Benn
Of the 27 countries that have qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, nine have so far reached completion point and have received an irrevocable reduction in their stock of debt. A further 10 are expected to reach completion point by the end of 2004. Three of these (Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Niger) should reach completion point imminently.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to predict exactly when countries will reach completion point, because, instead of a fixed completion point date, the enhanced HIPC Initiative system is based on a 'floating' completion point. But even where countries miss their predicted completion point date, there is no delay to the delivery of debt relief, as countries cease to make payments on their debt from decision point.