In growing numbers of the HIPC debt relief documents, the
budgetary savings from debt relief are explicitly calculated for a number of
years to come. There is thus an opportunity in the HIPC document to specify or
earmark how much of the savings (either as a percentage of the
actual savings, or in absolute dollar terms) will be allocated to the national
AIDS programme. If so, the teams working on HIV/AIDS in the HIPC process have a
chance to lobby for a sizeable allocation to the national AIDS programme. This
can be justified both on the basis of the estimated cost of a large-scale
national response to the epidemic, and by demonstrating how fundamental the
fight against AIDS is in the overall effort to reduce poverty and promote
economic and social development. In high-prevalence countries, a minimum of
US$1.50-2.00 per capita is needed for a strong national AIDS programme, e.g.,
US$15-20 million annually in a country with 10 million inhabitants. If
one-quarter or one-half of these costs (in the above example, this would amount
to say, US$5-10 million a year) can be met through debt relief, with the balance
funded from external development partners, this would constitute an important
financial and political investment by the government.
Since HIV/AIDS is a cross-cutting issue that extends beyond any
individual sector, a supra-sectoral budgeting/allocation is advisable.
Earmarking debt relief savings for HIV/AIDS could itself be one of the HIPC
conditions to be monitored for successful completion of the debt relief process.
For example, during the period from 2001-2003, the government will spend
US$xx million of debt relief savings on its national AIDS