Zambia is seeking $600 million in debt relief from Russia, Iraq and other creditor countries that were not part of global debt relief plans agreed with the world’s poorest nations in 2006, Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande said on Wednesday.
Magande said Zambia had written to Russia, Iraq, Bulgaria, Brazil and others asking them to cancel a total of $600 million in debt.
He said that under an earlier agreement Russia and some others had agreed to write off the debt but were delaying the process, while other countries had not responded to written requests by Zambia.
“We are asking non-Paris Club creditors who did not deliver any debt relief under the IMF and World Bank programmes to do so but many of them don’t feel it is important and are delaying,” Magande told Reuters in an interview.
He said Zambian Treasury officials would travel to Bulgaria next week to reconcile figures for the debt owed to Bulgaria before that country can cancel the debt.
Zambia has requested relief similar to that obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and the World Bank driven Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, he added.
Under HIPC and MDRI, Zambia received 100 percent debt write-off. Its foreign debt with the World Bank, the IMF and the G7 rich nations, which was estimated at $7.2 billion in 2005, was reduced to $502 million in June 2006 when it was awarded the debt cancellation.
Magande said Zambia owed Iraq some funds for military equipment delivered by the government of late president Saddam Hussein, who was a close ally of Zambia’s liberation hero Kenneth Kaunda, while Brazil is owed for tractors and other farming equipment delivered several decades ago.
“Part of the $600 million debt was acquired through the supply of various commodities by these countries,” he said.