By Peter Egwuatu
The total external debt for the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) countries climbed 9.5% to a record $744 billion in 2019 from the previous year highlighting an urgent need for creditors and borrowers alike to collaborate to stave off the growing risk of sovereign-debt crises triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest edition of the International Debt Statistics (IDS) report released by the World Bank on Monday, the pace of debt accumulation for these countries was nearly twice the rate of other low- and middle-income countries in 2019.
World Bank stated that before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising public debt levels were already a cause for concern, particularly in many of the world’s poorest countries as discussed in its four Waves of Debt report published in December 2019.
Responding to a call from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the G20 endorsed DSSI in April 2020 to help up to 73 of the poorest countries manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.