By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas’ national debt broke through the $8bn mark during the quarter to end-September 2018 despite a reduction in its growth rate due to narrowing government deficits.
The Central Bank, in its latest quarterly economic review, revealed that the national debt closed this year’s third quarter at $8.116bn following a $172.2m rise during the three months to end-September 2018.
“The direct charge on the Government rose by $135.2m (1.9 percent) over the previous quarter, and by $506.1m (7.4 percent), year-on-year, to $7.378bn at end-September 2018,” the Central Bank said.
“A disaggregation by component showed that Bahamian dollar debt represented 64.8 percent of the total, while foreign currency liabilities accounted for the remaining 35.2 percent.”
It then added: “The Government’s contingent liabilities grew by $37.1m (5.3 percent) during the third quarter, and by a lower $25m (3.5 percent), year-on-year, to $737.7m.
“As a consequence, the national debt - inclusive of contingent liabilities - expanded by $172.2m (2.2 percent) over the three-month period, and by $531.1m (seven percent) vis-à-vis September 2017, to $8.116bn.
“As a ratio to GDP, the direct charge firmed by 1.7 percentage points on a yearly basis to 59 percent at end-September. In addition, the national debt-to-GDP ratio rose to an estimated 64.9 percent from 63.2 percent a year earlier.”
When it came to The Bahamas’ foreign currency debt, the Central Bank added: “During the third quarter, public sector foreign currency debt firmed by $58.4m (1.7 percent) to $3.556bn, and by $563.9m (18.8 percent) relative to the same period last year.
“New drawings of $104.3m outstripped amortisation payments of $41.1m. By component, the Government’s liabilities - which accounted for 73.1 percent of the total - decreased by $38m (1.4 percent) to $2.599bn on a quarterly basis. However, the public corporations’ debt grew by $96.4m (11.2 percent) to $956.9m.”