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Least developed countries’ debt hit $744bn in 2019 – World Bank

SWITZERLAND – The World Bank’s latest edition of the International Debt Statistics (IDS) report has released more detailed data on countries’ external debt.

The report gave a breakdown of what each borrowing country owes to official and private creditors.

It also revealed the expected month-by-month debt-service payments owed to them through 2021.

The World Bank, in a statement, said before the COVID-19 pandemic, rising public debt levels were already a cause for concern.

Particular reference was made to the world’s poorest countries listed in the Four Waves of Debt report published in December 2019.

The statement said responding to a call from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the G20 endorsed the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) in April 2020.

This assisted 73 of the poorest countries to manage the impact of coronavirus.

In the 2021 IDS report, the total external debt of DSSI-eligible countries climbed 9.5% to a record $744 billion in 2019 from the previous year.

The development reiterates an urgent need for creditors and borrowers to collaborate to stave off the growing risk of sovereign-debt crises triggered by the pandemic.

As at December 2006 after Nigeria cleared the Paris Club loan, its external debt was $3.5 billion.

In December 2019, it surged to a 16-year high of $27billion.

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