January 28, 2010 / 1:23 PM / 8 years ago

Congo Rep secures debt relief: finance minister

<p>Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso attends for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Food Security Summit in Rome November 16, 2009. REUTERS/Pier Paolo Cito/Pool</p>

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - Congo Republic stands to receive major debt relief after reaching completion point in the so-called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) scheme, its finance minister said on Thursday.

“Yesterday, the Congo Republic reached completion point in the HIPC scheme,” Gilbert Ondongo told reporters, adding that the amount of relief available could extend to over 3,000 billion CFA francs.

The central African oil exporter is due to meet Paris Club creditors in March when a final figure will be negotiated.

“After the negotiations with the Paris Club, Congo’s remaining external debt will be less than 1,000 billion CFA francs,” Ondongo said.

Though its budget of 2,800 billion francs for this year would in theory allow Congo to repay its external debt in full, the country will stick to its spending programme, he said.

Congo Republic has been trying to rebuild its economy and infrastructure since civil wars in the late 1990s. It began debt relief talks with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2001.

HIPC is an international donor scheme to ease the debt burdens of poor countries, which is managed by the World Bank and the IMF.

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