G20 agrees to extend DSSI, with bilaterals facing more scrutiny
- G20 has confirmed a six-month extension to the debt service suspension initiative (DSSI)
- Calls for all bilaterals to implement DSSI fully and transparently, while private participation is still voluntary
- G20 and Paris Club also agreed on developing a common framework for bilateral creditors in debt resolution
The G20 has confirmed a six-month extension to the debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) – see G20 communique here. An extension was expected after the G20 agreed in July to consider it (see here), although the six-month extension (1 January-30 June 2021) is shorter than some may have wished (for instance, the IMF noted its preference for a 12-month extension – see here). Still, the G20 agreed to consider a further six-month extension if need be at the time of the 2021 IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.
The G20 statement also warned that "all official bilateral creditors should implement this initiative fully and in a transparent manner", a point underlined by the Paris Club (see its statement here). And, to stress the point, the G20's addendum to the term sheet (Annex II of the communique) states that "beneficiary countries must request the DSSI from all their official bilateral creditors and not only a subset of them".
We think this reflects a number of concerns that have emerged over the implementation of DSSI, and chimes with concerns that we've heard during the virtual IMF/WB Annual Meetings this week, that some eligible countries have had difficulties with getting approvals from non-Paris Club G20 creditors and that the process has been too slow. Some (non-Paris Club) lending countries have proceeded on a bilateral basis, offered different terms, or have carved out certain lending entities from having to take part (so reducing the potential upfront cashflow benefit). Indeed, the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva pointedly noted in her opening press conference to the 2020 Annual Meetings in a reference to China that some of its lenders had participated in DSSI, while others have not because of the way they are classified.
Some of these concerns over non-Paris Club creditors could reflect weaker internal communication and coordination procedures within the lending countries, and across their lending entities, as well as their relative newness in having to deal with debt problems on a coordinated and multilateral basis, and could improve in time as lenders understand better international norms and learn the process.
We note that, to date, the Paris Club has approved 34 countries for DSSI.
Private sector participation disappointing but still voluntary
The G20 also noted its disappointment about the lack of private sector participation, a point echoed in the Paris Club statement and one that has been made before, although commercial creditors may breathe a sigh of relief that participation hasn't been made mandatory or that DSSI 2.0 isn't made contingent on private sector participation. The Paris Club reiterated the call for private creditors to participate in the initiative on comparable terms at the request of the borrower, but in essence participation is still voluntary; and the reasons for this perceived lack of participation are well-rehearsed (see here).
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