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France agrees to €24-million debt payment grant

France agreed on Monday to give the Republic of Congo €24 million (US $31.1 million) to pay off the country's debt to the African Development Bank, the continent's foremost financial institution.

The agreement on this was signed in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville.

Repayment of Congo's estimated $100-million debt to the bank is a requirement of the International Monetary Fund, if the country is to qualify for the fund's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

This HIPC facility qualifies the world's poorest countries pursuing the IMF- and World bank-supported adjustment and reform programmes for debt reduction. Access to HIPC would clear the way for the Congo government financing in the education, water and health sectors.

The debt payment will enable the country to begin to borrow money from the ADB, once more. Although Congo's access to the facility had been suspended, the bank contributed $500,000 to the country in 2004 to help fight the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Cuvette Ouest Department.

Congo faces several challenges before it can execute the accord with France.

"Among these challenges, are the consolidation of peace, democracy and political stability without which development efforts would be useless," Pacifique Issoïbeka, Congo's finance and economy minister, said at the signing ceremony.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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