The debt burden of least developed countries rose to $744bn in 2019, the World Bank said on Monday.
It disclosed this in its report titled ‘Debt burden of least developed countries continues to climb to a record $744bn in 2019’.
In response to an urgent need for greater debt transparency, the bank said the latest edition of the International Debt Statistics report provided more detailed and more disaggregated data on external debt than ever before in its nearly 70-year history.
It said this included breakdowns of what each borrowing country owed to official and private creditors in each creditor country, and the expected month-by-month debt-service payments owed to them through 2021.
Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising public debt levels were already a cause for concern, particularly in many of the world’s poorest countries as discussed in its Four Waves of Debt report published in December 2019.
Responding to a call from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, it said the G20 endorsed the Debt Service Suspension Initiative in April 2020 to help up to 73 of the poorest countries manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said the debt stock of DSSI-eligible countries to official bilateral creditors, composed by mostly G-20 countries, reached $178bn in 2019 and accounted for 17 per cent of long-term net debt flows to low- and middle-income countries.