The Debt Sustainability Framework sets out a proposal by the World Bank for identifying countries in actual or potential debt distress situations leading to a formula for determining grant eligibility within the amounts to be allocated during the Fourteenth Replenishment of IDA. It attempts to classify countries based on the performance of their institutions and policies and determine thresholds for selected debt indicators for each country grouping and then estimate the level of debt distress as measured by the forecast levels of the selected indicators from the country DSAs.
The World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as the leading lending agencies, have been under mounting pressure to deal with a wide range of debt sustainability challenges. The challenges have refused to subside. Instead they continue to stimulate urgent need for a new debt sustainability framework and debt management orientation that can allow for the borrowing economies to break the vicious circle of unending distress.
The Debt Sustainability Framework sets out a proposal by the World Bank
for identifying countries in actual or potential debt distress situations
leading to a formula for determining grant eligibility within the amounts to
be allocated during the Fourteenth Replenishment of IDA. It attempts to
classify countries based on the performance of their institutions and policies
and determine thresholds for selected debt indicators for each country
grouping and then estimate the level of debt distress as measured by the
forecast levels of the selected indicators from the country DSAs.
Unlike in the HIPC Initiative where a single indicator – debt to exports -
was used the DSF paper selects three debt ratios to judge debt
sustainability. Further, country policies and institutional capability and
vulnerability to shocks are other factors identified as being important for
assessing a country’s debt sustainability. In particular, country policies
and institutional capability are used to grade countries and determine
different debt ratio thresholds for them.
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The Thirteenth Replenishment Agreement of the World Bank’s
International Development Association (IDA), covering the period
2003-5 inclusive, introduced grant financing for the first time in IDA’s
40-year history. The Agreement recognized that unsustainable levels of
debt should be a criterion for eligibility of grants for low-income
borrowers, along with criteria such as the exigencies of natural disasters,
conflict and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In IDA 13, each borrower was
subject to a cap of grant funding equivalent to 40 percent of its total
Every year, the World Bank rates the economic, social and political
performance of each borrowing government by the extent of its
compliance with its own definition of “good” policies and institutions.
For this purpose, it uses the CPIA. It rates the policy and institutional
performance of each government relative to 20 criteria (grouped in four
Liquidity Monitoring Ratios
a) The Debt Service Ratio is the proportion of exports of goods and non
factor services that is absorbed for debt service payments, i.e., interest,
principal and other payments. The basic ratio refers only to long and
medium-term debt which covers all loans with an original maturity of
one year and above.
b) The Interest Service Ratio is the ratio of interest payments to exports
of goods and non-factor services.
Our thanks go to all those involved in the writing and production of this book. We owe
a debt of gratitude to all the contributors for their chapters and for their forbearance in
the long time it has taken to be ﬁnally published. Our thanks go to Dan Saunders who
produced the cover image and to Shibu Raman for producing the drawings for Chapter 5.
We thank the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment for
supporting the preparation of this book, in particular Japp van Staalduine.
. The framework summarized in the paper
starts with a grouping of all
low income countries in accordance with the performance of institutions
and effectiveness of policies followed by choices of the most
appropriate thresholds for the selected debt burden indicators. It is
understood that DSAs will become dynamic in nature capturing
information as they become available during each replenishment period
rather than holding them static for each period. The preparation of
forward-looking DSAs will be a development that will take place during
The starting point for the allocation of grants is the system in place for
allocating IDA funds based on the PBA system that was described in the
previous section. This ensures the link with policy performance that has
increasingly been the basis on which IDA funds have been allocated in
successive replenishments. Thereafter, the country groupings based on
debt distress are used to allocate grant funds within the IDA country
allocations that have been determined.
Since 1993, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has pursued a policy of restructuring its
external debt in order to reduce its debt burden. In 2002, the Bretton Woods institutions
prepared a debt sustainability analysis that concluded that the country was not eligible
for the Enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative. Furthermore, in
2003, the Vietnamese authorities approved a debt strategy for the period of 2001-2010
formulated by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).
For each policy cluster in the CPIA, the Bank applies numerical
performance ratings from 1 (low) to 6 (high) and these are converted to
five “letter” grades. The reason for presenting the data this way is that
the Bank places each government in one of five quintiles, based upon
the quality of its performance in each area. Quintiles display the
performance of governments relative to one another, whereas the real,
undisclosed data present nominal scores.
There are several concerns relating to the DSFs that need to be kept in
mind and taken account of in determining a country’s strategy for
mobilizing external resources. Many of them are recognized and
described in the Framework Paper and mentioned again in this paper to
complete the description of the DSF.
The authorities have made continuous efforts to build benchmarks at different points along
the yield curve. The aim of this strategy is to further develop the interest rate term structure
in the local currency, which would allow better pricing and liquidity of bonds issued both by
the government itself and by the private sector. To this end, the authorities have increased the
average maturity of the outstanding debt and smoothed its maturity profile.
The first type of event is similar to a credit rating action, i.e. it relates to an individual
country. The informed public or other market participants are often able to anticipate
the decision or action taken. Thus, at the date of the decision or action hardly any new
information regarding the country itself may be revealed. After it has been taken,
however, it is assumed to have a more lasting impact on the pricing of bonds issued
by the agent.
In the wake of the global financial crisis, there has been strong, renewed interest in the
behavior of public debt, especially in advanced economies. However, empirical work on debt
cycles and debt sustainability has been constrained in the past by lack of public debt datasets
covering long time periods and a wide group of countries.
An important purpose of the Financial Report is to help citizens and policymakers assess
whether current fiscal policy is sustainable and, if it is not, the urgency and magnitude of policy
reforms necessary to make it sustainable. A sustainable policy is one where the ratio of debt held
by the public to GDP (the debt-to-GDP ratio) is stable in the long run. Sustainability concerns
only whether long-run revenues and expenditures are in balance; it does not concern fairness or
efficiency implications of the reforms necessary to achieve sustainability.