§ Hilary Benn
The UK was influential in getting agreement, at the 1999 Annual Meetings of the World bank and IMF, to the consultation process on the design of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative being widened to include developing countries. In order to ensure developing country involvement in discussions about the delivery of debt relief, we and other donor countries are co-financing the HIPC Ministerial Network, as part of the HIPC Capacity Building Project. This network, which held its first meeting in Copenhagen in November 1999, brings together, once or twice a year, Finance Ministers and senior officials from all of the HIPC countries to discuss issues relating to the design and implementation of the HIPC Initiative. These meetings help to inform our own views on debt issues. The Commonwealth HIPC Forum also provides an important platform for Ministers from HIPC countries to discuss matters of mutual interest, and has stimulated wider debate within the Commonwealth, as well as within the International Financial Institutions themselves. The UK also contributed to the recent review of the HIPC Initiative by the Operations Evaluations Department (OED) of the World Bank, and funded two meetings between the evaluators and HIPC representatives, to allow HIPC countries to feed in their views. The OED report has now been published.