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Tuesday, 21 September 1999
Page: 8572

Senator Bourne asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 March 1999:

With reference to the huge debt incurred by the world's poorest nations and their increasing inability to repay their donor countries:

(1) Does the Minister agree that the heavily indebted poor countries initiative makes an important advance in international debt relief strategies to enable human and social development in some of the world's poorest nations.

(2) (a) Does the Government support this initiative; and (b) in what practical ways will the Government demonstrate that it is committed to poverty reduction and human development not only in our region but throughout the world.

(3) Can a list be provided of the countries that owe a debt to Australia.

(4) What are the levels of that debt.

(5) What goods or services have been purchased by those countries to incur that debt.

(6) What would the impact on Australia's economy be, if Australia were to retire the debt of those nations in accordance with a heavily indebted poor countries initiative, such as Jubilee 2000.

Senator Hill (Environment and Heritage) —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

This supplementary answer is additional to the answer provided on 11 May 1999.

(3), (4) and (5) In addition to debts owed to Australia by Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Vietnam, a fourth Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), Lao People's Democratic Republic, has a sovereign debt with Australia. The debt owed to Australia by Lao PDR was A$803,194 as at 31 December 1998 and A$189,321 as at 31 July 1999. The debt is on an export credit loan provided by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) for steel bridging components.