Total does not reflects slight reduction after govt pays Rs3.999 trillion in servicing in 15 months by Q1FY20
“If the government spends about Rs4trillion for total debt and liabilities servicing where does remaining about Rs7.61trillion go as we have not seen any mega development projects in the public sector by the government?,” Dr Qas Aslam
By M Jahangir Hayat
LAHORE: Pakistan’s total debts and liabilities soared to Rs 41. 49 trillion by the end of Q1FY20p from Rs 29.88 trillion during financial year 2017-18 indicating an abnormal hike of over 39 percent during the 15-month from July 2018 to September 2019, an official data of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) indicated.
The swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the 22nd Prime Minister, was held at the President House in Islamabad on August 18, 2018. The total debt and liabilities, before PTI took over in August 2018, were standing at Rs 29.8 trillion till the end of financial year of 2017-18.
The incumbent government paid Rs 3.999 trillion about Rs4 trillion on account of total debts and liabilities servicing during these 15 months, however; not a slight reduction took place in Pakistan’s total debts and liabilities stock neither in FY19r nor in Q1FY20p instead the total debts and liabilities touched record high from 40.22 trillion by FY19r to 41.49 during Q1FY20p.
The State Bank of Pakistan data indicated that the total stocks of debts and liabilities have not reduced even slightly even though the government paid more on account of interests on the debts and liabilities that is Rs 2.782trillion and less on account of principal account that is Rs 1.210trillion during the period under review.
After the abnormal hike in the total debts and liabilities to Rs over Rs41trillion, another worrisome point is that the government paid Rs 2.143trillion on account of interest payments on the debts in FY19r.
The Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Year Book 2018/19 showed that it collected Rs3.828trillion during the last fiscal year and failed to reach the number of Rs3.844trillion (revised target) in the preceding fiscal year.
The interest payments made by the government during the FY19r Rs 2.143 trillion is more than 56 percent of the revenue that the FBR collected during FY19r and the leftover stands at Rs1.685trillion.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) data also indicated that the government paid Rs 1,763.9 trillion, a lion’s share of interest on total debts and liabilities during FY19r on account of the governments domestic debts.
In the same way, the government has paid total debts and liabilities of Rs861billion on account of debts servicing of which Rs 296 billion is for principal amount, Rs 118 billion for external debts and Rs 426 billion for the domestic debts.
Again in during the Q1FY20p, the government paid a big chunk of Rs 426 billion as interest for the domestic debts while just Rs118 billion has been paid on account for the external debts that show that the external debts are comparatively less a burden on the revenue than that of the domestic debts.
This scribe also contacted Chief Spokesman of the SBP, who replied to Daily The Business that “for debts and liabilities we can provide data only which is available on the SBP website.
Economists are concerned over the alarming high borrowing by the government especially from the domestic sources that inflated from Rs 16.42 trillion in FY18 to Rs 22.64 trillion in Q1FY20p, even though no major development works are visible.
Known economist Dr Qas Aslam while commenting on the situation of the abrupt escalation in the debts said that it is not understandable where does the money go?
At the first place the debts to GDP ratio is hovering between 104 percent during FY19 to 95 percent by the end of the Q1FY20p is no way justifiable.
“If the government spends about Rs4trillion for total debt and liabilities servicing where does remaining about Rs7.61trillion go as we have not seen any mega development projects in the public sector by the government?,” Aslam also raised the question.
The government’s too much dependence for debts on the domestic sources also crowded-out and it may be falling heavily on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and rural borrowers he said, adding that the intensive dependence of borrowing from the domestic sources will be crowding-out of private sector credit, impacting SMEs and industrial sectors and igniting inflation.
The governments must adjust its debt to be consistent with the development of their fiscal, financial and political development, he said, adding that the loss-making entities must have to be privatised and at the same time Public Sector Development Projects should be initiated to avoid further deterioration in the economic growth rate that may fall to 2.8 percent from 3.3 percent in the current circumstances.