National debt set to keep climbing

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National debt set to keep climbing

Amid concerns about household borrowing and rising inflationary pressure, ballooning national debt is shaping up as the next big headache for Korean taxpayers.

The Ministry of Strategy and Finance yesterday released a report indicating that national debt will likely climb 25 trillion won ($21.2 billion), or 6 percent, next year to 448.2 trillion won.

Some 49.5 percent of the total, or 222 trillion won, will be repaid using taxpayer money, a proportion that is up 1 percent this year.

The ministry’s report was drawn from a national debt management plan for 2011-15 that was submitted to the National Assembly yesterday.

It shows that national debt will advance to 422.7 trillion won in 2012, up 7.8 percent or 30.5 trillion won from 2010, largely due to the issuance of Treasury bonds.

The new debt includes deficit-covering bonds worth 16.6 trillion won and currency-stabilizing bonds amounting to 16 trillion won.

The government plans to put the brakes on new debt from 2013 by reducing its growth to less than 2 percent. It has set ballpark figures of 460 trillion won in 2013, 466.4 trillion won in 2014 and 471.6 trillion in 2015.

But deficit-covering debt, or debt that authorities use taxes to cover due to a lack of alternatives, is still expected to reach new heights. One example of this would be government bonds that were converted from public funds and are proving difficult to retrieve.

According to the ministry, such debt is due to reach 208.7 trillion won by year’s end, setting an unenviable new milestone by breaking the 200 trillion won barrier for the first time. It was at just half this level six years ago but escalated in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

Debt growth should scale back, however, and hit negative territory from 2014, the government said.

Such deficit-covering debt is expected to account for 49.5 percent of the national debt next year, a record high. It will then gradually roll back until it hits 45.4 percent in 2015.

The ministry’s report said Korea’s debt-to-GDP ratio peaked at 33.4 percent last year but will fall to 33.3 percent by the end of this year and move inside 30 percent from 2014 if GDP keeps growing by 4.5 percent.

By Lee Ho-jeong []

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

422조 … 올해 나랏빚 30조원 증가

208조는 세금으로 메워야

기획재정부는 올해 말 국가 채무가 422조7000억원으로 지난해 말 392조2000억원보다 30조5000억원(7.8%) 늘어날 것이라고 2일 전망했다. 내년 국가 채무는 올해보다 25조5000억원(6.0%) 증가한 448조여 원으로 예상됐다. 국가 채무 가운데 ‘적자성 채무’는 올해 208조2000억원(49.4%)으로 처음으로 200조원을 돌파한다. 융자금을 돌려받거나 자산을 매각해 메울 수 있는 ‘금융성 채무’와 달리 적자성 채무는 온전히 국민 세금으로 메워야 한다.

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