Lebanon Businessnews News

Public debt:
$75 billion!
Just 37 percent of debt

is in foreign currencies

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Gross public debt reached $74.9 billion at end of 2016, a 6.4 percent increase on the previous year. It had grown 5.7 percent in 2015.

Net public debt reached $65.4 billion recording 6.2 percent increase compared to 2015.

Damianos Kattar, Former Minister of Finance, said: “The absence of a public budget has contributed to excesses in expenditures.”

The primary surplus (Revenues minus expenditures excluding debt servicing) was $1.2 billion, well below the $4.4 billion needed to meet interest payments.

Gross debt in the lira reached LL70,528 billion ($46.8 billion) growing by a yearly eight percent and representing 62.5 percent of total debt. Gross debt in foreign currencies, mainly the U.S. dollar, increased 3.7 percent to $28.1 billion.

Kattar said: “The increase in the share of local currency debt is due to the financial engineering operation of the Central Bank (BDL), whereby it swapped the dollar-denominated securities for local currency denominated ones. This is good news.”

BDL held 42.7 percent of the local currency debt, and commercial banks almost 42 percent. Financial institutions and public agencies held 9.5 percent. Eurobonds accounted for 93 percent of the foreign currency debt. Banks own a large percentage of such bonds.

Interest rates on T-bills were 6.9 percent, and on Eurobonds was 6.46 percent in December 2016. The weighted life on Eurobonds was 6.2 years, and on T-bills 3.4 years.
Reported by Rania Ghanem
Date Posted: Feb 13, 2017
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