The UN says global public debt will reach a record $97 trillion by 2023. Developing countries are hit hard

The United Nations reports that global public debt rose to a record $97 trillion last year, with developing countries owing about a third of that – reducing their ability to pay for basic government services such as health, education and healthcare.

GENEVA — The United Nations said on Tuesday that global public debt rose to a record $97 trillion last year, with developing countries owing about a third of that – limiting their ability to pay for basic government services such as healthcare, education and climate action.

UN Trade and Development, formerly known as UNCTAD, said the value of money owed by governments increased by $5.6 trillion from 2022.

In a report published Tuesday, the agency said high interest payments are outpacing growth in essential government spending.

In the developing world, home to 3.3 billion people, 1 in 3 countries spend more on interest payments than on programs in 'critical areas for human development' such as health, education and climate action.

In 2023, public debt in developing countries reached $29 trillion, or about 30% of the global total – up from a share of 16% in 2010, the UN agency said.

“Developing countries should not be forced to choose between servicing their debts and serving their people,” the report “A World of Debt” said. “The international financial architecture must change to ensure a prosperous future for both people and the planet.”

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