Public debt up by $12.9B

-but debt-to-GDP ratio declines

Guyana’s total public debt increased from $317.7 billion to $330.6 billion in 2016 but the total debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined to 46.4% from 48.6% at the end of 2015 due to a nominal increase in the GDP.

This is according to the 2016 Public Debt Annual Report, which was presented to the National Assembly on Friday.

The report states that total external debt amounted to $240.0 billion (US$1,162.4 million) or 72.6 percent of total public debt, while domestic debt stood at $90.6 billion (US$438.6 million) or 27.4 percent of total public debt.

It explains that the “marginal increase was mainly attributed to disbursements from some multilateral creditors and the Export Import Bank of China” and notes that the increasing share of the domestic debt in Guyana’s total debt portfolio reflects Guyana’s strides to have a diversified portfolio and debt instruments.

“The total public external debt stock continues to increase and reflects Guyana’s preferences for obtaining concessional loans whilst domestic debt stock increased as a result of an increase in the issuances of domestic securities (Treasury Bills and Debentures) in 2016,” it states.

In the report, the second of its kind to ever be presented, the Minister of Finance Winston Jordan argued that due to prudent macro-economic management, Guyana’s debt indicators continue to depict a stable debt profile.

In his introduction to the report, Jordan stressed that in 2016, Guyana graduated to an upper middle-income country, which while indicative of economic developments and progress in recent years, creates an array of new challenges for the country.

“Foremost among these is the loss of highly concessional financing from development partners and greater risks associated with new sources of financing,” he explained, while adding that as a policy measure the administration has sought to widen the range of multilateral partners from which the country can access concessional or near-concessional resources. These include the Islamic Development Bank and the OPEC Fund for International Development.

“The increasing cost of development finance for Guyana means that we must strive for increased efficiency in our administration of public resources, irrespective of the emergence of oil and gas and its promises of substantial inflows of resources,” the minister further stated.

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