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A chameleon called debt relief


  • Cassimon, Danny
  • Essers, Dennis


This paper critically reviews three decades of official creditors’ debt relief practice in Sub-Saharan Africa from a novel angle, i.e. along debt relief’s similarities with other aid modalities. We show that debt relief is a true ‘chameleon’ which mimics different sorts of aid, from traditional project aid to multi-year general budget support. The ‘colour’ of this chameleon depends on the embedded conditionality, alignment and the budgetary resource effect of particular debt relief interventions. We argue that characterising debt relief from an aid modality perspective is helpful in better understanding its widely varying performance track record and holds important policy lessons for designing future operations.

Suggested Citation

  • Cassimon, Danny & Essers, Dennis, 2013. "A chameleon called debt relief," IOB Working Papers 2013.01, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
  • Handle: RePEc:iob:wpaper:2013001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cassimon, Danny & Prowse, Martin & Essers, Dennis, 2009. "The pitfalls and potential of debt-for-nature swaps: a US-Indonesian case study," IOB Working Papers 2009.07, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
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    Cited by:

    1. Freytag , Andreas & Pettersson, Jonatan & Schmied, Julian, 2016. "Debt Relief and Good Governance: New Evidence," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145914, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Danny Cassimon & Dennis Essers & Karel Verbeke, 2016. "The changing face of Rwanda's public debt," BeFinD Working Papers 0114, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    3. Danny Cassimon & Dennis Essers & Karel Verbeke, 2015. "What to do after the clean slate? Post-relief public debt sustainability and management," BeFinD Working Papers 0103, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    4. Hudson, John, 2015. "Consequences of Aid Volatility for Macroeconomic Management and Aid Effectiveness," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 62-74.
    5. Danny Cassimon & Dennis Essers & Achmad Fauzi, 2014. "Indonesia's Debt-for-Development Swaps: Past, Present, and Future," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(1), pages 75-100, April.
    6. Megersa, kelbesa & Cassimon, Danny, 2016. "Debt Sustainability and direction of trade: What does Africa’s shifting engagement with BRIC and OECD tells us?," MPRA Paper 76581, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:nam:befdwp:3 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Cassimon, Danny & De Herdt, Tom & Verbeke, Karel, 2015. "On the creation of Adam: what debt relief means for education in the DRC," IOB Working Papers 2015.06, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).

    More about this item


    debt relief; HIPC; MDRI; aid modalities; budget support; Sub-Saharan Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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