Header and navigation menu

Page content

The Legal Foundations of Public Debt Transparency: Aligning the Law with Good Practices

Debt opacity burdens the public and can exacerbate debt vulnerabilities in many countries. Both low-income and developing countries and emerging market economies have critical gaps in debt transparency, and the implementation of international standards and guidelines has lagged. The paper surveys the legal frameworks of sixty jurisdictions and reveals the critical weaknesses that hinder debt transparency, which include weak reporting obligations, limited coverage of public debt, inadequate monitoring, unclear borrowing and delegation processes, unfettered confidentiality arrangements and weak accountability mechanisms. Because laws entrench practices and bind the discretion of policy makers and debt managers alike, subjecting them to public scrutiny, legal reform is a necessary part of any solution to the problem of hidden debt, though it may entail a difficult and time intensive process in many jurisdictions.