KARACHI: Central government domestic debt increased by Rs829 billion to Rs24.11 trillion in the first five months of the current fiscal year, but the trend shows that the pace of borrowing has been slower in FY21 than what it was during the previous 12 months.
The State Bank’s latest data issued on Monday showed that the domestic debt in November 2019 was Rs21.41tr which jumped to Rs24.11tr in November 2020, an increase of Rs2.7tr.
The data showed that the government’s domestic debt and liabilities collectively increased by Rs2.75tr in November 2020 since November 2019. Most of the domestic debt, over 50 per cent, was mobilised through Pakistan Investment Bonds (PIBs). The government raised Rs14.033tr through PIBs till November 2020, an increase of Rs1.827tr during the last 12 months.
However, it increased by Rs1.147tr in five months reflecting that the government borrowed aggressively during FY21.
Most of the debt of PIBs was mobilised during the first five months of the current fiscal year. The PIBs in June 2020 were Rs12.866tr which increased by Rs1.747tr during the first five months of the current fiscal. The long-term PIBs are not only preferred by domestic but also by foreign investors as these bonds offer higher returns.
The government relies heavily on banks to borrow to meet its fiscal deficit. After the agreement with the IMF the government does not borrow from State Bank: it either borrows through short-term treasury bills or long-term PIBs. Due to Covid-19, the borrowing from banks by the private sector remained slim which allowed the banks to park their maximum liquidity in government paper.
However, the first quarterly data of FY21 which was also included in the latest issue of the State Bank showed that the total external debt as percentage of gross domestic debt significantly declined to 41.4pc in September 2020 compared to 45.5pc in June 2020.
The total external debt as a percentage of GDP in September 2019 was 40.1pc. A major change was visible in total debt and liabilities as a percentage of GDP which fell to 98.3pc in September 2020 compared to 106pc in June 2020.
The gross domestic debt as a percentage of GDP in November 2020 fell to 81.1pc from 87.2pc in June 2020.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021