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ISLAMABAD: The incumbent government has added Rs1.057 trillion to the domestic debt during the first six months of the current fiscal year (July-December 2020) to finance the fiscal deficit, according to the Finance Ministry.

“Domestic debt is primarily obtained to finance the fiscal deficit while lending support to Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP),” noted Debt Bulletin uploaded by the Finance Ministry on its website for July-December 2020.

The government relied mainly on domestic debt market to finance its deficit, i.e., 67 percent of the federal fiscal deficit was financed through domestic debt during six months of fiscal year 2020-21.

Within domestic sources, all of the additional funding was mobilised through long-term government securities, whereas net reduction was witnessed in short-term debt.

Within external sources, multilateral and bilateral sources remained the main contributor in financing of federal fiscal deficit, the ministry added.

As a result of government heavy reliance on borrowing owing to less revenue collection, domestic debt in percentage of total public debt increased to 65 percent from 64 percent during the period under review and consequently, the total public debt was increased to Rs37.456 trillion from Rs36.399 trillion.

The Finance Ministry stated that the reasons for increase in total public debt during July-December 2020 were Rs 1,475 billion interest on debt, Rs 307 billion changes in the cash balance of the government federal primary deficit (surplus) Rs 82 billion, currency depreciation (appreciation) - International Currencies against Pakistan rupee Rs 706 billion.

The government outstanding guarantees extended to Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) have increased from Rs1,950 billion in December 2019 to Rs2,409 billion in December 2020, reflecting an increase of Rs459 billion with guarantees in domestic currency increasing from Rs1,467 billion to Rs1,622 billion and in foreign currency from Rs 483 billion to Rs 788 billion.

Domestic borrowing was made entirely from the financial markets and an amount of Rs285 billion was repaid to the State Bank of Pakistan, stated the Finance Ministry.

All borrowing needed to finance the fiscal deficit was made through longer-term debt while the government retired a portion of short-term debt by Rs534 billion and with effect from 1st July 2020 all institutional investors have been barred from investing in the National Saving Schemes (NSS) with the objective to deepen the financial markets and lower the government’s long-term borrowing costs by creating more competition for long-term government debt.

The government introduced various new instruments to further develop the government securities market, attract more diversified investor base and to provide more flexibility and options to the investors as well as to the government and these included; (i) government started issuance of 5-Year Sukuk with fixed rate rental payments from July 2020; (ii) similar to conventional bond, government introduced re-opening mechanism in Sukuk auctions in July 2020 to increase liquidity of the Sukuk; (iii) government started issuance of 3, 5- and 10-Year floating rate PIBs with quarterly coupon payment frequency from October 2020; (iv) and the government introduced 2-Year floating rate PIBs in November 2020 with quarterly coupon payment frequency and fortnightly interest rate resetting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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