Norway First in the World to Audit Developing Countries’ Debt

The Norwegian Government has released a new report on developing countries’ debt to Norway. This is the first time any country has undertaken such a process. “We are doing this to make sure that we are living up to our responsibility as a lender to developing countries” said Minister of International Development, Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.

The external audit of public debts owed to Norway by developing countries was commissioned by the Government and conducted by Deloitte. The consultancy agency investigated aid packages offered to developing countries since the 1970s. The report covered 34 debt agreements with seven countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The main purpose of the audit was to examine whether the agreements were made in compliance with national guidelines and international principles.
The report showed that the agreements were, to a large extent, conducted in accordance with previous rules and regulations and were also partially in accordance with the current implemented rules and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) principles. The report also identified weaknesses in some of the agreements, which the Government will investigate further.
By taking this step Norway is again demonstrating itself as a leader in international debt policy. Norway has already cancelled foreign country debt to almost NOK 7 billion over the last eight years which has in return helped the countries to release national resources for poverty reduction.
“I am pleased that Norway is setting new standards for using the UNCTAD Principles on Promoting Responsible Lending and Borrowing, and I urge other countries to follow suit” said Mr. Holmås. He hopes that the Norwegian process will inspire other countries to investigate past lending decisions. This form of global debt transparency marks the first concrete use of the international principles established by UNCTAD, aimed at promoting responsible sovereign lending and borrowing.

Read the report

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