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The purpose of this article is to analyse the impact of debt relief programs on poverty reduction in Bolivia by focusing on the enhanced HIPC initiative. As this initiative tries to reduce poverty in a decentralized way, I concentrate my analysis on the link between poverty reduction and bolivis enhanced HIPC initiative resources at the municipal level.

In order to do that, I study the specific impact of debt relief on the evolution of two poverty indicators the schooling and achievement rates over the period. I conclude that the released resources under the enhanced HIPC initiative did not affect the evolution of bilivia poverty indicators over the period. However it did not use the contracted credits efficiently as these credits were mostly allocated to unproductive projects.

In the eighties, the favourable economic situation of the seventies reversed and the country faced an economic and social crisis, as well as a debt crisis as it found itself unable to pay back its scheduled debt service. In an effort to permanently get out of the process of repeated debt rescheduling and to reach debt sustainability, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries HIPC debt relief programs have been implemented in Bolivia since the middle of the nineties.

These programs were the first to include a multilateral debt relief and aim at combating the high level of poverty in the poorest and most indebted countries. InBolivia qualified for the original HIPC initiative by fulfilling the three criteria relating to poverty level, external indebtedness and reform programs. This allowed releasing resources given that Bolivia saw a part of the amount it had to pay under debt service reduced.

In order to benefit from the initiative Bolivia had to attain several 20774 reduction targets. They were achieved thanks to a series of social reforms under the second generation reforms program bolivoa areas such as education, health and rural development. Therefore the HIPC initiative does not seem to have played a significant role in this poverty reduction since most of these targets would have been met boliviq through the sequence of reforms. Indeed under the HIPC initiative, the government did not implement any specific poverty reduction strategies, nor did it create any type of link between debt relief and poverty reduction.

Inthe original HIPC initiative which was judged insufficient to reach external debt sustainability was extended under the enhanced HIPC initiative. This initiative consisted in a deeper, faster and broader debt relief. It also aimed at reinforcing the connection between debt relief and poverty reduction by making compulsory the elaboration of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper PRSP in order to qualify for this program.

Indeed Bolivia fulfilled the specific conditions in terms of reform program, the PRSP and the participation of its creditor. This made possible, on the one hand, the participation of the civil society in the EBRP elaboration and, on the other hand, a more efficient identification of the poverty items and the corresponding solutions.

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The financing of the EBRP comes from both international cooperation and domestic resources. A social and economic control was set up and was conducted by the civil society and specific institutions.

Moreover indicators were specified in order to track the poverty reduction and to evaluate the efficiency of the EBRP. In order to establish the amount of relief funds for each municipality, the population is recalculated according to the following formula: To sum up, the municipal allocation is defined as: This allocation process makes it possible to focus on the poorest municipalities and thus reduce inequalities.

Furthermore it grants more resources to the municipalities of the less populated departments. The MDRI objective is twofold: Opposed to the enhanced HIPC initiative, for which a scheme of distribution of the resources to the municipalities had been specified in the Law of the National Dialogue, there is neither a precise rule of allocation of the MDRI resources nor a specific control of the resources utilization. The combination of these three programs made possible the reduction of the external indebtedness and the improvement of the Bolivian external debt sustainability.


The debt stock fell from The level of the debt to exports and the debt service to exports ratios linking the debt and its servicing to the availability of foreign exchange earnings were also reduced, respectively from The ratios of debt to GDP and debt service to GDP have also sharply improved, referring to the relationship between the debt burden and the capacity of the economy to generate income.

In the light of these indicators I can conclude that the Bolivian external indebtedness has strongly improved as a result of the different debt relief programs. This could explain the recent increase of the debt service and the negative net transfers 7 of these last few years.

These three initiatives aim to cut the debt burden of the poorest countries in the world to help them to combat poverty. Therefore the purpose of this article is to analyse the impact of debt relief initiatives on poverty reduction in Bolivia.

For this, I have chosen to focus on the enhanced HIPC initiative since it is the only initiative that makes clear the relation between debt relief resources and poverty reduction through the PRSP elaboration and the earmarking of the use of the funds.

Furthermore the enhanced HIPC initiative tries to reduce poverty in a decentralised manner, thus in line with the global decentralisation process which was implemented in Bolivia from the early nineties. In order to analyse the specific impact of the enhanced HIPC initiative on poverty I will use an econometric model which attempts to measure the impact of debt relief under the enhanced HIPC initiative on the evolution of two municipal poverty indicators in the education sector the primary schooling rate and the achievement rate of the final grade of the primary school over the period 8.

This paper is organized as follows. In the second section I try to review the literature on the subject in order to emphasize the different questions linked to debt relief and to list its advantages and risks.

The third section introduces the database which is used in the econometric analysis whereas the fourth section outlines the methodology and summarizes the econometric model. Finally, in the fifth section, I will interpret the results of the econometric regressions. Section six concludes the study.

Debt relief has many advantages but can also be risky. In this section I will try to summarize the main advantages and risks of debt relief which are emphasized in the economic literature. Debt overhang can discourage investment. Therefore, foreign lenders are likely to absorb the returns to investment and the investments foreign and domestic —and as a result of that economic growth— could be consequently depressed Krugman, ; Koeda, Furthermore debt overhang creates uncertainty concerning government actions and policies that must be taken to meet its debt-servicing obligations e.

External debt service could also affect growth by crowding out private investment or by altering the composition of public spending. Other things being equal, higher debt services can raise the government interest cost and the budget deficit leading to a reduction in public savings which may, in turn, 20744 the interest rate or crowd out credit available for private investment.

Debt service payments can also put pressure on the amount of available resources for infrastructure and human capital building, inducing negative effects on growth Clements et volivia. Secondly, debt relief is likely to put an end to the defensive lending phenomenon. Indeed, in the nineties, most of the donor countries allocated their aid to the most indebted lley in order to help them reimburse their obligations Birdsall et al. Furthermore, the criteria used to allocate aid to countries were linked to their indebtedness without any consideration to their economic performance or governing ability.

As a result, debt relief can make the aid more efficient by modifying its utilisation and its allocation criteria.

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Thirdly, according to Cassimon et al. From this point of view, debt relief can be considered as a new form of development aid. Powell outlines that the aim to combat poverty through debt relief started with the multilateral debt relief programs HIPC initiatives.

Nevertheless, a fiscal space was created under the essential assumption that the debt service would have been paid.

Otherwise debt relief consists only in an accounting clean-up of the future and past arrears accumulation.

As regard to the risks of the debt relief, the moral hazard risk can be firstly highlighted. Indeed, after the debt relief, debtor countries could believe that their creditors have softened the way they consider defaults and will be willing to cancel their debt for a second time should their reimbursement probability diminish again in the future Arnone et al.

These countries could be tempted to misbehave and accumulate external debts in order to finance excessive expenditures. Furthermore, developing countries which have not benefited from the debt relief could also be eager to get into debt in order to benefit from debt relief.


Also, debt relief can be considered as unfair since it rewards the most indebted countries and, in a way, punishes the developing countries which have adopted a cautious indebtedness policy Berlage et al. Secondly, debt relief can lead to a free-riding behaviour which refers to a situation under which a creditor tries to gain at the expense of the other creditors. Indeed, the creditors of the heavily indebted poor countries could be unwilling to participate in the debt relief programs in order to get reimbursed Krueger, These creditors could threaten the benefits of the initiatives.

Indeed, should they account for a large proportion of the creditors the debt relief will not lead to debt sustainability. Moreover, creditors could become reluctant to participate in the relief as they fear free-riding from the other creditors.

Therefore the participation of every creditor must be guaranteed. Vulture funds, which seek to make a quick buck by buying up the debts of heavily indebted poor countries at a cheap price and then trying to get back the full amount often by suing through the courtsconsist in another form of free-riding. Free-riding can also refer to the lending policies of new creditors toward countries which have already benefited from debt relief. There are diverging interests between the collective interest, debt sustainability, and the interest of individual lenders who can benefit from lending to HIPC countries at commercial terms.

According to Eurodadthe HIPC countries are eager to contract these kinds of loans because of the insufficient number of concessional loans that are offered on the market, their need of financing to reach the Millennium Development Goals and the absence of conditionalities of these new loans.

Either way, free-riding is likely to threaten the benefits of debt relief by endangering debt sustainability. Thirdly, debt relief does not guarantee that the country will never fall back in overindebtedness. Indeed, various factors can affect debt sustainability; among which the quality of the policy and institutional frameworks, debt management capacity, external shocks and fiscal revenue mobilization Sun, ; Berensmann, ; Kraay and Nehru, ; Looser, Fourthly, debt relief can cause an increase of the domestic public debt.

Indeed, multilateral debt relief programs restrain the external borrowing policy of the HIPC countries which can lead to a substitution between external and domestic indebtedness.

Nevertheless, these advantages can occur only under strict conditions macroeconomic stability, credible monetary and fiscal policies and financial market liberalization. These conditions are essential since without them the domestic debt advantages are likely to be absorbed by high interest rates and private investment crowding-out. However, we can legitimately question the macroeconomic stability of the debt relief beneficiaries and consequently the benefits they can obtain from domestic indebtedness.

Therefore, the debt sustainability analysis must take into account the domestic debt evolution. Finally, debt relief can release resources to finance social expenditures and consequently help combat poverty. However, this depends on two essential conditions: In order to assess the relation between debt relief programs and poverty reduction, I first use the per capita disbursement of the enhanced HIPC resources to each municipality under the EBRP accumulated over the period I have at my disposal data for of the current municipalities some of them were created over the period.

The municipalities have different sources of financing. Their main source comes from transfers they receive from the state, and they also collect their own resources, especially through taxation.

All these resources allow the municipalities to invest and finance their functioning. These resources are allocated according to the population of the municipality and make it possible to redistribute resources previously concentrated in the capital cities of the nine departments. The enhanced HIPC resources which are allocated to the municipalities through the EBRP transfers are also part of the municipal income and aim at their development.

Another important transfer, the direct tax on hydrocarbon IDHwas implemented more recently with the hydrocarbon law of The income derived from hydrocarbon taxes has to be devoted to social sectors such as education, health and infrastructure.

Nowadays it accounts for one of the most important transfers to the municipalities. Indeed, even though both of bplivia aim at combating poverty through transfers to the municipalities the IDH is of increasing holivia as opposed to the enhanced HIPC resources.

Other instruments have been designed in order to contribute to the local development, among which: