Working Paper
The HIPC Debt Relief Initiative

Uganda’s Experience

Since the mid-1980s Uganda has had debt strategies, which clearly laid down procedures for negotiating new loans and emphasized commitment to reduce the stock of debt arrears. Over this period, the country went through six Paris Club negotiations and debt reduction operations.
Uganda became the first country to qualify for the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) initiative and formally entered the HIPC debt relief process in April 1997, attaining its completion point in April 1998. Unfortunately, by January 1999 it was concluded that the country could not sustain its debt, mainly as a result of a substantial decline in export proceeds and increased disbursements from old and new loans. Having qualified for the first HIPC, Uganda had little difficulty in meeting the requirements for the enhanced HIPC. The government provided the required Poverty Reduction Strategic Paper (PRSP) and accessed the enhanced HIPC in February 2000.
This paper examines Uganda’s experience with the two HIPC Initiatives and explains why it was relatively easy to qualify, concluding, however, that the country’s debt may be unsustainable even after the HIPC Initiative. The reasons are explained.