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Sustainable debt and financial transparency

RESPONSIBLE LOANS: Adopted principles of transparency about debt is a step in the right direction for sustainable and legal lending to vulnerable low-income countries. Norway should take the lead as a responsible lender and investor.

(Note: The article is mostly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate)

This summer, G20 supported an initiative of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) on voluntary debt transparency principles: «Voluntary Principles for Debt Transparency". Both the main organization for the financial industry in this country, Finans Norwayand DNB is a member of IIF along with 450 other institutions globally.

The principles have so far received little media attention. This may be because the principles are voluntary and not determined whose which can follow up and establish a system for how to implement it. The most obvious thing would be the assignment of the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

The debt crisis in Mozambique has been widely discussed in Norway Because the Government Pension Fund Global (SPU) is the second largest investor in Credit Suisse, which is one of the banks behind the
illegal loans to Mozambique.

Although much work remains and there is great uncertainty about compliance with this voluntary transparency, the adopted principles are a step in the right direction for more sustainable private individuals. loans to vulnerable low-income countries.

openness will be able to contribute å prevent unnecessary and illegal loans, and the principles are intended to supplement G20 and the development banks' existing tools and guidelines for å reduce debt vulnerability.

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The introduction of the principles will entail, among other things, a form of public register with information on the value of the loan, the anchoring in legislation and the repayment plan. Such a register can be of benefit to both the lender and the borrower and to civil society, and hopefully could contribute to more sustainable loans.

debt Crisis

Financial transparency is closely linked to sustainable development, and transparency has become a theme for civil society's demands for funding the UN's sustainability goals. Responsible lending is important in this context because many countries rely on loans to meet their obligations.

Developing countries' debt burden has increased in recent years, and many countries are moving into new debt crises. Mozambique is an example where almost two billion dollars were borrowed during the period in 2013–2014. The consequences have been disastrous, with deep debt crisis and rising poverty in the country.

The Mozambican authorities were the borrower, and the loans were taken secretly without Parliament's approval. The loans are thus illegal. The lender also has a responsibility that the loan is rooted in the borrower and that it is not kept hidden. The banks neglected this responsibility.

The debt crisis in Mozambique has been widely discussed in Norway because the Government Pension Fund Global (SPU) is the second largest investor in Credit Suisse, which is one of the banks behind the illegal loans to Mozambique.

Norway and the GPFG should set a good example both as a responsible lender and by not investing in companies that do not take responsibility. The GPFG's ethical guidelines are currently under review and there is an opportunity to tighten up the transparency requirements of the companies it invests in. "Voluntary Principles for Debt Transparency"Can contribute to this.

Gro Skaaren-Fystro
Skaaren-Fystro is a special advisor in Transparency International Norway.

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