Friday, February 8, 2008

Does Pakistan Face Debt Crisis?

A number of Pakistani economists and newspaper columnists are fretting about what they call "Pakistan's Debt Crisis". They claim that Pakistan's national debt has risen dramatically over the last 8 year. Putting in perspective, it seems to me that they are raising an unnecessary alarm. While it is true that Pakistan's total external debt has increased by about 10% since 1999, it is also true that Pakistan's GDP has more than doubled.
Here are the facts:
In 1999 Pakistan’s total debt as percentage of GDP was the highest in South Asia – 99.3 percent of its GDP and 629 percent of its revenue receipts, compared to Sri Lanka (91.1% & 528.3% respectively in 1998) and India (47.2% & 384.9% respectively in 1998). Internal Debt of Pakistan in 1999 was 45.6 per cent of GDP and 289.1 per cent of its revenue receipts, as compared to Sri Lanka (45.7% & 264.8% respectively in 1998) and India (44.0% & 358.4% respectively in 1998).
Most recent figures in 2007 indicate that Pakistan's total debt stands at 56% of GDP, significantly lower than the 99% of GDP in 1999. It also compares favorably with India's debt-to-GDP ratio of 59% and Sri Lanka's 85% in 2007. From being the highest debtor nation in South Asia, Pakistan has, in fact, become the lowest debtor nation in its region and achieved economic growth rate of about 7% a year during the last 6 years.

Sources: CIA World Fact Book
Jubilee Research
State Bank of Pakistan


Anonymous said...

Thankyou so much for these positive articles abt Pakistan. There is alot to worry abt in Pakistan, but some of your articles make me happy abt our future! Keep writing.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan faces serious challenges but it also has many successes. I talk about both in my writings. The challenges I have blogged about include rising violence, ominous consequences of upcoming elections,the energy crisis and the wheat crisis. But I also talk about things that have gone well over the last 8 yeats ...such as sustained economic growth, telecom boom, investment boom, growing middle class (with rising incomes) essential for establishing civil society, rule of law and real democracy etc.
Pakistanis are a very resilient nation. Pakistan has defied many gloom and doom forecasts since its birth. I am hopeful that Pakistanis will come through the current crises better and stronger than ever.

Anonymous said...

pakistan is a jewish country

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report from The News about Pakistan's growing debt.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
KARACHI: Pakistan’s debt sustainability indicators deteriorated in July-Dec 2009 as external debt and liabilities were up, while foreign exchange earnings remained stagnant and the economy slowed down, the SBP said in its report.

The total external debt as percentage of GDP as well as debt servicing to export earnings ratio worsened during the period under review, the bank said. The stock of external debt and liabilities increased by $4.7 billion to reach $55.8 billion in the first half of the current fiscal year, it said.

External debt servicing was $2.648 billion by end of Dec 2009, up 9.7 per cent from the same period of the previous year, as the country repaid bilateral creditors, multilateral donors and private non-guaranteed debt. Yet, almost 25 per cent the increase in external debt and liabilities was due to depreciation of the US dollar against major currencies, the SBP in its report said.

With $180 billion GDP, Pakistan's debt to gdp ratio is about about 30%.

While I agree that it can become a serious problem if not properly tackled, I also think it can be managed if the economy starts to grow again soon. That's the real challenge for Pakistan right now.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR story on Pak debt repayments since Year 2000:

Pakistan repaid $10.3 billion to lenders till 2011-12
September 20, 2012

Pakistan has repaid $10.3 billion between 2000 and 2011-12 to various bilateral and multilateral donors, excluding the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Data obtained by Business Recorder showed that actual payments from 2000-01 till 2011-12 pertaining to loans that were signed after July 2000 stood at $10.37 billion: total loans amounted to $5.7 billion, $4.45 billion was interest and commitment charges were $157 million.

Data also showed that the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was repaid $3.08 billion with $2.9 billion as actual amount of loan while $199 billion was paid as interest. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been repaid $1.8 billion, including $1.3 billion actual loan with $461 million interest while $32 million was paid as commitment charges.

France has been repaid $1.02 billion, including $218.3 million actual loan amount and $809 million interest while commitment charges were $470,000. The US, one of the major financial assistance providers to Pakistan, was repaid $336.2 million, including $59.1 million actual loan amount and interest of $277 million.

The UAE was repaid $13.6 million ($1 million actual loan plus $12.5 million interest), Turk Exim Bank was repaid $64.5 million ($51.6 actual loan plus $12.9 interest), Switzerland $27.9 million, including $11.1 million actual loan and $16.8 million interest, Sweden was repaid $62.7 million ($19.6 million actual loan plus $43.1 million interest) and Saudi Arabia was repaid $390 million from 2000-2001 till 2011-12.

Documents also showed that Russia received $77.5 million as repayment, including $19.7 million actual loan with $57.8 million interest. Japan received $1.1 billion against actual loan of $185.8 million, Italy was repaid $18.6 million, Austria $53.5 million against actual loan of $18.2 million and Canada was repaid $38.7 million while the actual loan amount was $12 million. Germany was repaid $314.2 million while International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA) have been repaid $422.2 million against the actual loan amount of $33 million.

Riaz Haq said...

Sakib Sherani's Op Ed in Dawn on Pakistan's debt situation:

In overall terms, since July 2013, non-debt creating foreign exchange inflows (such as foreign direct investment, remittances and exports) have increased by $2.2bn, while debt flows have increased by $4.1bn (in net terms).

While Pakistan’s overall external debt situation is not alarming at the moment, with the bulk of the debt stock long-term and concessional in nature, and with debt repayment indicators in a relatively comfortable zone, the trend established in the past few years does give cause for concern.

The concern is accentuated by the possible confluence of a number of unfavourable factors in the medium term. Within the next three years, repayments begin on maturing sovereign dollar-denominated bonds; to the Paris Club on rescheduled debt; and to the IMF for the amounts disbursed under the current programme. In addition, imports relating to new power plants and the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will also kick in. On top of all this, Pakistan could be incurring as yet unspecified external liabilities on CPEC projects.

With exports misfiring, the government paying inadequate attention to this cause, and remittances plateauing, the unfolding scenario could be the ‘worst case’ rather than the hopeful ‘base case’ constructed by the government and IMF.

(A crude indicator of the PML-N government’s priorities is the number of hours the finance minister has spent travelling the world meeting foreign bond investors in the past two years versus the amount of time he has given to Pakistan’s exporters in listening to, and trying to address their concerns.)

Taking external as well as domestic debt together, Pakistan’s debt dynamic in overall terms is extremely unfavourable. Public debt has increased nearly three-fold since 2008, rising to almost Rs18 trillion by end-June 2015, growing at a compounded annual rate of over 16pc. In the last two years, Rs3.2tr has been added to the public debt, increasing the stock by 22pc. Making the debt dynamic non-benign is the fact that the bulk of the increase (Rs2.7tr) has come from high-cost, shorter-maturity domestic debt.

With economic growth stagnating, inflation-adjusted increase in government revenues only nominally positive, and uncertain prospects for exports, the outlook for public debt is not benign. Already, public debt-to-GDP ratio stands at over 65pc (excluding the quasi-fiscal deficit), well above its legal threshold under the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (FRDL) Act of 60pc. Interest payments are inching up, budgeted to consume 52pc of total net federal revenue (after provincial transfers) in the current fiscal year.

An oft-overlooked aspect of Pakistan’s debt situation is the political economy. There is an inherent asymmetry between the ‘benefits’ derived from new debt undertaken, and the burden of its repayment. There are two facets worth considering. First, those segments who tend to ‘benefit’ from the debt contracted (the elite) are usually different from those who bear the incidence of the debt burden (the less affluent).

The elite benefit from the country’s overall borrowing because it insulates them from difficult choices by easing their budget constraint. The debt expands their available resource pool, and their control and influence of expenditure allocation allows them to increase the spending on their constituencies while shifting the ‘burden’ and consequences to less influential segments. The consequences can be in the form of expenditure cutbacks, lower spending on public services, lower investment and growth in the economy and/or higher inflation.