Poor management causes Vietnam's public debt to rise rapidly: official

By VnExpress   May 26, 2017 | 09:07 am GMT+7
Poor management causes Vietnam's public debt to rise rapidly: official
Workers are seen at a construction site in Hanoi, Vietnam May 25, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham

While debt ratios are still within safe limits, both the government and foreign creditors have noticed a fast growth.

The numbers are sobering.

In the period of 2001-2015, foreign debt increased 6.5 times, according to a report prepared by the Ministry of Finance for legislators this week.

Dinh Tien Dung, the finance minister, has named the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan the three biggest creditors.

“Public debt and government debt are increasing rapidly,” Dung said on Thursday during a parliamentary session. “It's mainly because of the weaknesses in managing and using loans.”

He said some debtors of government-guaranteed loans also lost their repayment ability, passing on the burden to the government. The minister did not elaborate or name any specific state-owned companies.

Vietnam has depended on foreign loans to develop cash-hungry infrastructure and public projects. Hanoi, the capital city, for instance is looking to borrow VND53 trillion ($2.3 billion) from foreign creditors to develop its metro lines.

Dung said the Law on Public Debt Management needs to be amended to include stricter rules on borrowing and on enhancing capital management.

Data from the Ministry of Finance showed debt ratios were still within limits at the end of 2016: public debt, government debt and foreign debt stood at 63.7 percent, 52.6 percent and 44.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product respectively.

The World Bank has forecast that Vietnam’s public debt will climb to 64.4 percent in 2017 and 64.7 percent in 2018.

The growing debt will impose a steadily increasing burden on Vietnam's economy, and make it ever harder to cut the budget deficit, the bank said in a report last year.