Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 31 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Debt Relief.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his views on the writing off of odious and illegitimate debt by the World Bank, the IMF and other international lending agencies; and if he will propose such or make other proposals to the forthcoming meeting of these institutions. [25998/07]

Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his views on initiatives to relieve the debt of highly indebted poor countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26439/07]

  Deputy Brian Cowen: I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 164 together.

Ireland has been strongly supportive of the full implementation of debt relief and, where appropriate, cancellation.

In 2002, the Department of Finance and the Department of Foreign Affairs published a joint paper on the question of debt relief to which I refer to the attention of the Deputies. That set out our position in detail regarding such issues as [1254] debt sustainability and cancellation. In particular, it emphasised the need for donor support for debt cancellation, which has been partially successful. The poorest countries are already eligible for 100 per cent — debt cancellation on their bilateral debts under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, as well as 100 per cent debt cancellation on their debts to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). In addition to an earlier contribution of €30m towards the costs of implementation of the HIPC Initiative, we were the first country to pay its full share of the costs of the MDRI — €58.6m out of the approximately US$37 billion total cost. We will remain actively engaged in ensuring that international commitments to dealing with the debt burden on developing countries are met.