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NZ Help For The World's Poorest Countries

Media Release
Hon Phil Goff
Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Hon Matt Robson

9 March 2000


The Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, Finance Minister, Michael Cullen and Associate Foreign Minister, Matt Robson announced today that the Government would contribute $6.4 million to help reduce the debt of the world's poorest countries.

The Ministers said that New Zealand strongly supported the efforts of the international community to address the massive debt burden of developing countries.

"The urgency of addressing the issue of debt relief is highlighted by the current crisis confronting Mozambique, one of the first countries to receive relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The total debt, public and private, of Mozambique represents over US$490 a person. Its GNP is only US$210 a head.

"There are sound practical and economic as well as humanitarian reasons for alleviating the debt situation of developing countries.

"The current situation whereby the richest countries continue to get richer while the poorest sink further into debt is ultimately a source of tension and instability.

"It's in our interest that the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries can achieve economic development and become active trading partners," the Ministers said.

Developing countries have no debts outstanding to New Zealand. The last remaining debt, with Peru, was forgiven last year.

The Ministers said, "the further contribution by New Zealand to debt relief announced today will help release resources in Heavily Indebted Poor Countries for poverty alleviation and assist them in their efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth."

New Zealand's contribution takes the form of one-off grants of $3.2 million to each of the Trust Funds set up by the IMF and World Bank under the HIPC. An international initiative targeted at the world's poorest countries, the HIPC is linked to IMF and World Bank supported reform programmes.

The Ministers said that this contribution was not at the expense of other expenditure under New Zealand’s Official Development Assistance Programme.


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