Earlier today, Mr Holmås surprised the anti-debt movement by announcing that the Government is to review poor countries’ debts to Norway. This work, which will be assigned on the basis of an international tender, will be started this autumn and is to be completed in early summer 2013.
Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås commented, “Norway is the first country in the world to review its loans to developing countries, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on foreign debt and human rights. This means that Norway is setting the gold standard in this area.”
“Norway will continue to be a responsible lender. We hope this work will inspire other lenders to initiate similar reviews and thus become better lenders too,” said Mr Holmås. Issues that are covered by the concept “responsible lending” include considering the debtor country’s priorities rather than focusing on the creditor’s export interests, and considering the capacity of poor countries to pay back loans. Openness is also important.
Norway is at the forefront of international efforts to train a spotlight on responsible lending and borrowing. Norway provided funding for the UN project to draw up international criteria for responsible lending. These were launched in Doha in April this year. The Government’s aim and the Storting’s decision to carry out a review of Norway’s loans to developing countries must be seen in the context of this broader effort. This initiative is also linked to Norway’s efforts to promote financial transparency.
“Responsible lending and reviewing loans to developing countries have been on the international agenda for several decades. But until now, no such review has been undertaken. Norway’s review of its loans will draw attention to the issue of responsible lending in the international arena,” said Mr Holmås.