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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 19:17 GMT
IMF approves $4.8bn debt relief
Woman and child in Niger
Niger is one of the nations that stands to benefit from debt relief
The International Monetary Fund has approved a $4.8bn (2.8bn) plan to cancel the debts of 20 of the world's poorest countries.

It is part of the multilateral debt relief initiative agreed by leaders of the G8 industrialised states last July.

With the World Bank and IMF they set a target of writing off $55bn of debts from the world's poorest nations.

Around 70% of the debt is owed to the World Bank, while the rest is owed to the IMF and African Development Bank.

The World Bank is expected to announce a $38bn debt relief package next week.

Reduce corruption

Among the countries benefiting are Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Most of them have qualified for the IMF debt relief by undertaking economic reforms and taking steps to reduce corruption.

The aim of the debt relief initiative is to free poor nations from debt repayments and enable them to spend more money on improving living conditions and reducing poverty.

It is seen as a crucial step towards meeting the United Nations' millennium development goals of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015.

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