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December 27, 2016

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Govt debt rises in Q3 but below ceiling

THE balance of the central government debt rose 13.7 percent from a year earlier to 11.7 trillion yuan (US$1.7 trillion) at the end of the third quarter, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement yesterday.

The figure was up by 530 billion yuan from that at the end of the second quarter.

Of the debt, only 120 billion yuan was foreign debt, the ministry said.

The third-quarter figure was still below the ceiling of 12.59 trillion yuan that the central government targeted in its annual fiscal budget in March.

China’s government debt, which also includes local government debt, represented 41.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product at the end of 2015, below the European Union’s warning line of 60 percent and major market economies such as Japan and the United States.

The ministry said in May that there was still room for China to increase its debt level by moderately scaling up issuance of treasury bonds and local government bonds, which will help cushion the impact of shrinking social credit on economic growth.

The local government debt soared during an investment and construction binge following the global financial crisis in 2008.

China has put a ceiling on the amount of local government debt. The total outstanding debt of local governments must be kept under 17.2 trillion yuan at the end of 2016, according to the ministry.


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