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‘Multilateral debt is not a widespread problem for Severely Indebted Low Income Countries’ wrote the World Bank in September 1994. Two years later, the International Financial Institutions-the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund-agreed to a proposal to bring the debt of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) to sustainable levels. While imperfect, the proposal went some way to meeting the demands of NGOs which, with progressive forces both within the World Bank and among creditor countries, have played a crucial role in this process. While the multilateral debt problem is now too great to ignore, the authors maintain that it has been the persistent pressure of these players that has been responsible for the enormous progress made by the IFIs.

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