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France to cancel more debt for the world’s poorest countries

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Monday, 11 November 2013

France to cancel more debt for the world’s poorest countries

Foreign debt cancellations might reach new highs in France's 2014 development aid budget, with Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Ivory Coast and Sudan expecting a complete deletion of their national debt, Euractiv informs. France carries more debt from the 'most indebted poor countries' than any other country. The government is expected cancel €1.79 billion of foreign debt in its 2014 budget, up from €607 million the year before. This represents 16% of France's total development aid budget for next year, €9.8 billion.
The countries in the debt cancellation programme continue to pay their debt back to France but when the refund is done, France transfers the corresponding amount back by allocating it to programmes to fight poverty.
"In 2014, an estimated five countries could see their debt completely erased: Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Ivory Coast and Sudan," Benoît Hamon, Minister in charge of the social economy , said. “The debt relief is almost immediate, since we are transferring loans made in the past into donations".
Anti-poverty groups appreciated the increase of debt cancellation, but they still have some criticisms regarding French foreign aid. So far, France has not allocated more than 0.46% of its gross national income to development , despite its commitment to reach 0.7% by 2015.
However Hamon said that the French support to development aid would reach 0.7% “as soon as the economic climate improves”. He underlined that France was “far from countries like Spain or the Netherlands which have drastically cut into the development aid budgets because of the crisis”.

Source: EurActiv