5. Budget Financing and Debt Management

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1 5. Budget Financing and Debt Management 5.1 To accomplish the objectives of the NSAPR, Bangladesh has been pursuing its debt management activities with various short, medium and long term reform measures. Prudent financing of the budget deficit is the key challenge to the success of macroeconomic and fiscal policy objectives. This section focuses on government s broad strategies for public debt management and financing arrangements. This section is followed by a synopsis on the current debt profile, projections in the medium term, key challenges and recent developments in the management of public sector debt. Debt Strategy 5.2 Government s actions in the area of debt management and financing arrangements are founded on three key strategic objectives: Raising stable, low-cost funding to keep the overall cost of borrowing at a manageable (low) level in order to finance the fiscal deficit; Gradual development of a well functioning government securities market to provide benefit to the government as a borrower and to a wide range of market participants; Minimise implicit and explicit risks inherent in the management of debt to promote debt sustainability in the medium term. Types and Categories of Debt: 5.3 Government debt in Bangladesh consists of domestic and external debt. External Debt is directly linked to borrowing from bilateral and multilateral institutions for project funding through the Annual Development Programme and budget support systems. Domestic borrowing is generated for financing segments of the budget deficit in addition to intra-year cash flow management. In general, external borrowing is applied to long term commitments while domestic borrowing is required for short, medium and long term commitments. Public Debt Profile 5.4 Although the total amount of debt in Bangladesh is increasing over time, external outstanding debt as a percentage of GDP is declining and the ratio for domestic debt to GDP is increasing. External Debt: 5.5 External assistance has played a vital role in the economic development of Bangladesh, assisting in bridging the internal gap (savings-investment gap) and external gap (export-import gap). The costs, risks and maturity structure related to external debt management analysis are important. The cost of external debt is low as the most of the foreign loans received are through the

2 concessional window of IDA, ADB and Japan. The structure of maturity of the external debt of Bangladesh is composed of medium and long term debt with an average grace period of 10 years and a repayment period of 20 years. With the shrinkage of share of grant aid in the external aid package in recent years, the volume of external borrowings is increasing which has resulted in a progressive increase of per capita debt obligation which stood at US$ in FY06. Box 10: Public Debt Instruments For short term borrowing up to 364 days, GoB uses Treasury Bills (T-Bills). T-bills are of multiple maturities, consisting of 28 days, 91 days, 182 days and 364 days. Recent restriction in issuing T-bills up to 364 days has aligned the government securities classification with the international standard. Bangladesh Government Treasury Bonds (BGTB) are being used for borrowing for both medium and long term maturities ranging from 5 years up to 20 years. In order to bring flexibility in T-bond financing, government has introduced bonds with varying maturities and interest rates. As part of the effort, BGTB s with 15 and 20 years maturity are programmed to be issued in FY08. These bonds are expected to stagger the debt service payments over a longer time horizon, reducing rollover risks and refinancing risks. Government also uses three to five years term savings certificates (Sanchay potro) and bonds for the purpose of domestic borrowing from the public. Savings certificates include 5-year Bangladesh Sanchay Potro, 3 months Sanchay Potro and Pensioner Sanchay Potro. Bonds include Wage Earners Development Bonds, 3-year Investment bonds, US Dollar Investment Bonds and US Dollar Premium Bonds. Domestic Debt: 5.6 In the context of the declining trend in external assistance to Bangladesh, the relevance of borrowing from domestic sources has increased and the share of domestic debt as a percentage of GDP is also demonstrating an upward trend. Traditionally the domestic debt market in Bangladesh has been small and underdeveloped. However, recent reforms in domestic debt management are expected to contribute towards the development of a well functioning domestic debt market. The primary sources of domestic borrowing are: i. borrowing from the banking system and ii. borrowing from the public (through National Savings Certificates). The banking system consists of the Bangladesh Bank and Deposit Money Banks (i.e. Scheduled Banks). An increasing trend has been observed in net government borrowing from banking sources between FY02 and FY06. Net borrowing from the public has demonstrated a declining trend during the period FY02 to FY05 due, in part to, the interest rate cut in NSD certificates and termination of some savings certificates. However, an increasing trend has been observed due to upward adjustments in the interest rates for savings certificates during recent years. There has been a major shift in government borrowing from FY07 when the government announced an increase in its borrowing requirement through marketable Treasury bonds instead of Treasury bills.

3 Debt Projections 5.7 The objective of the Government s prudent fiscal policy in the mediumterm is to maintain the budget deficit at less than 4.0 percent of GDP. Against a modest 3.7 percent of GDP in FY07, the fiscal deficit in FY08 is expected to rise to 5.6 percent of GDP due to the Government s assumption of the outstanding loans of the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (Table-7). Due to this unusual situation, the deficit in FY08 could be considered as uncharacteristic because the deficit trend is projected at 3.8 percent of GDP in FY09 matching a more common trend. The anticipated deficit for FY09 to FY10 is estimated to remain at 3.8 percent of the GDP. The positive response to the NSAPR by the international development agencies is also expected to result in augmented real term external financing. Total net external financing is budgeted at 2.0 percent of GDP in FY08 against 1.6 percent in FY07. It is anticipated that 75.0 percent of foreign financing is expected to be received in the form of concessional loans and the remaining 25.0 percent as grants. However, efforts to maximize the share of grants will also be emphasised. Table 7: Budget Deficit and Financing (As percent of GDP) Actual Actual Revised Budget Projected Projected Total Financing Requirement External Financing (net) Loans Grants Amortisation Domestic Financing (net) From the banking system From the public Debt Servicing Trends and Projections 5.8 Historically the cost of borrowing in Bangladesh remains lower due to the concessional terms of external financing. The average cost of borrowing for overall Government debt is low in Bangladesh. Moreover, Bangladesh is persistently demonstrating prudence in debt repayments by ensuring prompt and timely repayment of its debt obligations. However, interest rate payments for overall Government debt still pose a substantial burden on the budget. 5.9 In FY07 interest rate payments accounted for 13.7 percent of total Government expenditure against 14.7 percent in the preceding year (Table-8). The total cost of government borrowing is expected to remain at approximately 1.9 percent of GDP over the medium term, but as share of total expenditure to fall from 14.7 percent in FY06 to 12.7 percent in FY10. The Government s assumption of the outstanding debt of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) in FY08 will also have an impact for the debt service payments in future years.

4 Table 8: Debt Servicing Costs Actual Actual Revised Budget Projected Projected Interest on External Borrowing Ineterest on Domestic Borrowing Total Interest as % of GDP 1.7% 2.0% 2.0% 2.0% 1.9% 1.9% as % of Total Expenditure 11.8% 14.7% 13.7% 12.4% 12.8% 12.7% Debt Sustainability 5.10 Debt ratios particularly debt (itself) as a percentage to GDP is the standard parameter for measuring the sustainability of a country s debt. This ratio depicts changes in the position of outstanding debt compared to the changes in the GDP of a particular year. The debt to GDP ratio is showing a declining trend in recent years implying a visible improvement in the outstanding debt position as a percentage to GDP. The total debt to GDP ratio declined to 47.9 percent of GDP in FY06 compared to 58.0 percent in FY02. The external debt to GDP ratio has also been declining since FY03 which has shrunk to 31.3 percent in FY06, which is close to the desired level and threshold (30.0 percent) that is considered as a sustainable benchmark for low income countries like Bangladesh. Table 9: Debt as percentage of GDP Actual Actual Actual Actual Actual Total Debt to GDP ratio External Debt to GDP ratio Domestic Debt to GDP ratio Source: ERD and Bangladesh Bank 5.11 Although total borrowing from domestic sources has increased, the domestic debt to GDP ratio has remained quite stable (recently) with a slight increase in FY06 when it rose to 16.6 percent against 16.5 percent in FY02. Debt Management Issues 5.12 Government has already finalised its Public Financial Management (PFM) vision for the short, medium and long term. This will assist in restoration of discipline in financial resource management. As part of the PFM Vision, government has undertaken some major reforms in the area of resource and debt management which are summarised below: Organisation of Debt Management 5.13 The formation of Debt Management Office under the Resource and Debt Management Wing (RDMW) in the Finance Division in mid 2005 has

5 supported a modest inception of reorganising the Government debt management structure in parallel with modern concept and practices. In FY07 significant changes in debt recording, debt reporting, debt analysis, non-tax revenue collection and monitoring and debt servicing liabilities management has gathered a new momentum through improved management and monitoring measures. Creation and regular updating of a dedicated debt management database, in-house capacity building in debt and fiscal management, regular monitoring of the debt situation, fortnightly and quarterly debt reporting in the RDMW are some of the noteworthy organisational measures that are already in place to strengthen the resource, debt and treasury management operations of the government. Treasury Risk Management and Analysis 5.14 Giving due importance to the rollover and refinancing risks on marketable securities, a number of risk minimisation and policy oriented steps have already been implemented by the government with the help of the central bank and other relevant organisations. Some of the more notable initiatives are listed below: Formation of Cash and Debt Management Committee (CDMC) for efficient, effective and timely policy decision making regarding debt management and budget financing; Separation of Government s Cash Management from Debt Management operations; Enhancing the Ways and Means Advance Limit from Taka 640 million to Taka 10,000 million and arrangements for temporary overdraft facilities with Bangladesh Bank; Significant reduction of government s cash reporting time to 5 days ; Formulation of Short and Medium Term Cash Management Action Plan to address the issue of identifying idle cash balances and their proper utilisation; Gradual computerisation of bank branches that performs government treasury functions and 40 branches have already been computerised so far. Accounts Management 5.15 Timely and reliable accounting information is the key to sound financial management which contributes significantly in bringing the effectiveness of the resource use and improving performance of the government. It also contributes towards reduction of borrowing costs. In view of the above, following steps have been taken: Accounting structures have been revised to allow generation of ministry-wise accounting information with effect from July, Transaction Accounting Software was revised and updated for capturing ministry-wise financial information; Implementation is underway to link Bangladesh Bank (head office and branches) government transactions with Finance Division and also connecting all accounts offices up to District and Ministry level through Wide Area Network (WAN);

6 Web-based Integrated Budget and Accounting System (IBAS) has been developed which will facilitate quick, timely and reliable financial information. This will facilitate comparison of actual expenditure with budget allocation. Market Development 5.16 Aside from bridging the fiscal gap, the provision of the government s domestic debt contributes towards the development of an efficient and vibrant money market and capital market by establishing a long term yield curve for government securities. A well developed market provides mechanisms for interest rate determination. The proportion of marketable government bonds (BGTB) has significantly increased to 53.0 percent during FY08 which was only 17.0 percent in FY05. The Government has concrete plans to increase the share of financing through bond issuance in the medium-term and the government will subsequently issue bonds with 15 years and 20 years maturity starting from FY08. Furthermore, considering the maturity structure of the securities, government has planned initiatives to further minimise the rollover risks Several steps have also been undertaken to fine tune the primary auction process, facilitate market competition and other measures that supports efficient price discovery in the government security market. The following include some of the steps taken to achieve this end: Government bonds have been listed in the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) as a step towards secondary market development; Discontinuance of adhoc Treasury Bills and introduction and announcement of Treasury bill and Treasury Bond Auction Calendar to ensure market predictability and increases in participation initiatives for the market players; Comprehensive guidelines for Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds limiting Treasury Bills up to 1 (one) year maturity, increasing the frequency of bond action (in every 1 month instead of 2 months), freezing accumulated adhoc treasury bills (accumulated up to 30 th June, 2006) and the preparation of an amortization schedule spreading over 15 years; Introduction of private placement and devolvement facilities with Bangladesh Bank when the market is unresponsive. Managing Contingent Liabilities 5.18 The management of the contingent liabilities related to government guaranteed borrowing is an important aspect of fiscal and debt management operation. There is a growing concern that with significant increases in contingent liabilities, government could face substantial demands on its resources if these guarantees of the loss-making SoEs were to be called in. In addition, quasi-fiscal operations and direct lending by Government continues to present significant fiscal risks in the form of contingent liabilities on the Consolidated Fund. Total outstanding guarantees amounted to US$ 2.3 billion at June 2006 while the level of counter-guarantees stood at US$.03 billion. Major reasons for this large amount of counter guarantees is to cover the sharp increase in costs of petroleum and the refinancing of the state owned Banks. Substantial quasi fiscal

7 spending as a result of administered prices tend to undermine the financial viability of the institutions concerned which may then require a policy shift towards prudent fiscal management As part of the streamlining the overall resource, debt and contingent liability management functions of the government, some notable steps have already been undertaken to minimise implicit and explicit risks arising out of contingent liabilities. The following steps undertaken are expected to enhance transparency in government contingent liability management and improve the overall refinancing management of the Government: Inclusion of a list of guarantees and counter guarantees in the budget document; Scanning of all guarantees for preservation with options to view qualitative and quantitative information; Inclusion of government guarantee related information in to the debt database. Cautious stance on the issuing of new guarantees and a thorough appraisal of guarantee and new lending requests. In addition, steps have been taken to establish a central database for government debt and contingent liabilities, regular analysis of debt sustainability and early detection of implicit and explicit risk arising out of debt, contingent liabilities and quasi-fiscal operations of the government are also in place.

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