In 1987, the government instituted an IMF structural adjustment program to encourage private sector growth. This goal has been the focus of economic reform since the early 90s. São Tomé and Príncipe has traditionally received foreign aid from the UN Development Program, the World Bank, the EU, Portugal, Taiwan, and the African Development Bank. In late 2000, the country qualified for enhanced debt relief through the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates that in 2000 São Tomé and Príncipe's central government took in revenues of approximately $58 million and had expenditures of $114 million including capital expenditures of $54 million. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately $56 million. External debt totaled $253.8 million.