Guide to understanding and accessing debt information

This guide, available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese aims to help civil society organisations, journalists and interested citizens find and understand information on government debt. Accessing information is vital to be able to hold governments and lenders to account on what loans are taken out, on what terms and how the money is used.

There is no one place that publishes all available information on government debt. One key source is borrowing governments themselves. Civil society organisations in individual countries will be best placed to know what information they can gather from their own governments.

Jubilee Debt Campaign also uses various other sources of information on government debt. This guide explains how to use those sources – such as the IMF and World Bank – to build up a picture of government debt. This should be combined with information published by individual governments.

The guide covers the following areas:

Section 2 outlines key concepts which are useful for understanding debt information.

Section 3 explains how to use the World Bank International Debt Statistics database.

Section 4 explains how to use the IMF and World Bank Debt Sustainability Assessments.

Section 5 covers the information available from publicly traded bonds, and bond prospectuses.

Section 6 covers information available from bilateral lenders.

This guide is based on a series of webinars conducted by Jubilee Debt Campaign in 2020. You can watch the webinars here.


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