The Public Debt Debate Is Not an Elevator Small Talk Issue

 

According to figure presented by VMRO-DPMNE, it may be true that this government increased the public debt for about 900 million euros, but that figure does not mean much as it is not clear how much of that money has been been repaid, nor is it clear what was the reason and the purpose of the increase (such as the nearly 200 million euros from China to complete the highway from Kičevo to Ohrid, which should have cost 400 million while VMRO-DPMNE was in power). Viewed as a percentage of GDP, the debt is OK

 

Author: Teofil Blaževski

 

VMRO-DPMNE has taken a stand on the increase of the public debt during the reign of the current government, which contains an obvious spin:

Spin: The wastefulness of Zoran Zaev and Nina Angelovska (Finance Minister) has cost citizens 914 million euros over three years. Zoran Zaev and Nina Angelovska in just one day have increased the debt by 300 million euros. Thus, the total amount of the state’s debt jumped to 914 million euros. Debt has grown, and there are no investments. For 10 months this year the government realized only 40% of the planned capital investments, i.e. 36% not counting the latest budget rebalance…

[Source: VMRO-DPMNE – press release/web page – date: 13 December 2019]

 

Counterspin:

VMRO-DPMNE in their statement/position, spins, i.e. distorts the truth about the issue of “wastefulness” of Zoran Zaev and Nina Angelovska concerning the issue of the public debt, pointing out one-sided data.

First and foremost, when discussing the government debt or the public debt, it cannot be represented in amounts of money, for example, “they owed this much” or in this case 914 million euros. Secondly, it is not of very high news value to look at the public debt, and not to mention the debt segments such as guaranteed and non-guaranteed debt, how much they are and in which currencies, how much is it in the domestic and how much in the foreign markets, who are the creditors, for what purposes whs this new borrowed , etc.

States, of course, are take debt for different reasons, but the level of indebtedness is reflected not only in the amount of borrowed money, but also in the amount of money repaid. The most important are the percentages, i.e. how much the state borrows in terms of the gross domestic product, i.e. GDP, and on that basis the debt situation is categorized – slightly indebted, medium indebted or highly indebted country.

North Macedonia has been characterized as a medium-indebted country for a long time, and everyone is careful the debt not to rise above 50 percent of GDP. This has been the case for the past 2 and a half years since the coalition of SDSM and DUI is in power, i.e. the government of Zoran Zaev.

This can be observed quite clearly from the data on the website of the Ministry of Finance, i.e. the graph of the state of public debt in the past years for which VMRO-DPMNE spins the truth, but it can also be observed how dramatically it has grown, especially from 2013 to 2016.

 

 

Debt status. Source: Ministry of Finance

 

These data show that from 2017 until the third quarter of 2019, the public debt ranged between 47 and 48 percent of GDP. It has also reached 46 percent, and it is true that there is a slight increase which has been calculated in the government plans. But it can also be seen that in 2017 the debt was 47.7%, and with the latest data, it is again 47.7%.

According to set figures, it may be true that the debt of this government is about 900 million euros total, but that figure does not mean anything as it is not clear how much of that money has been repaid, nor has it been said for what purpose have the borrowings been made (such as the nearly 200 million euros from China to complete the highway from Kičevo to Ohrid, which should have cost 400 million euros, while VMRO-DPMNE was in power).

Indeed, debt on the domestic market through securities or negotiable instruments is in line with the securities issuing (borrowing) calendar. However, immediately the next day after the borrowing is made, the state repays its maturing obligations.

Regarding foreign markets indebtedness, for example, about the latest Eurobond of around 500 million euros, it was already made clear by the previous Minister of Finance that it has been issued following an assessment that the interest rates on the debt are most favorable, and part of the money received will be used for repaying the old debts taken with higher interest rates and whose maturity deadline comes sooner.

Without further burdening the reader with details, if we take a look at all the relevant documents from the Ministry of Finance such as the Debt Balance Sheet, the Annual reports, the Fiscal Strategy for borrowing or National Bank Reports and Assessments, then it will be quite clear that the position/statement of VMRO-DPMNE about the wastefulness due to borrowing of the current government contains a twisted truth, i.e. it is a spin.

 

 

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