1. The Ministry of Finance has officially launched the Public Debt Policy 2016 on 7th September, 2016 at Tashichhodzong, Thimphu.
2. The Government has recognized the need for a comprehensive public debt policy to proactively guide its investment and ensure that financing decisions are prudent and public debt is maintained at a sustainable level. Following the directives from 40th Lhengye Zhungtshog Session held on June 24, 2014, the Policy was drafted by a Committee comprising of representatives from Ministry of Finance, Royal Monetary Authority, Gross National Happiness Commission Secretariat, National Statistics Bureau and Department of Hydropower and Power Systems.
3. The Policy is governed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Public Finance Act of Bhutan 2007, the Audit Act of Bhutan 2006 and the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan Act 2010, and amendments thereof.
4. This Policy extends to all Public and Publicly Guaranteed External and Domestic Debt of Bhutan. However, given the nascent stage of development of domestic debt market, the thresholds in this Policy shall apply only to External Debt, until such time the thresholds for domestic debt can be determined to compliment this Policy. The broad guiding principles for raising debt are categorized by type of liability (direct or contingent) and by sector of borrower (General Government, Public Corporations and RMA).
5. Given the unique nature of Bhutan’s debt dynamics, which is primarily driven by investments in the development of hydropower, the thresholds set out in this Policy have been framed in a manner to allow Bhutan to continue to pursue and optimize its hydropower resources. As such, the draft policy provides debt thresholds for two categories of debt viz., (i) Non-hydropower debt (ii) Hydropower debt.
6. The threshold for Non-hydro External Debt, inter alia, shall not exceed thirty-five percent (35%) of GDP during a five- year period. Similarly, for Hydropower External Debt, inter alia, the ratio of hydropower debt service to hydropower export revenue shall be maintained within forty percent (40%), in any given year. The overall threshold for Total External Debt however is, provided in terms of Debt Service Ratio (ratio of annual debt service obligation to exports of goods and services) which shall not exceed twenty-five percent (25%).
7. The thresholds are proposed to reduce the undue debt burden that might arise from indiscriminate borrowing for social projects which do not necessarily generate financial returns. Other considerations are aimed at to ensure fiscal discipline and avoid ad-hoc, short-term borrowing which are generally costly.
8. The Policy was formally approved by Lhengye Zhungtshog during the 109th Session held on 2nd August 2016.
958 total views