During the presentation of his maiden budget last week, Public Infrastructure Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill vowed that the PPP/C Government would ensure the nation’s debt is sustainably managed by pursuing a robust strategy premised on contracting development financing and meeting debt service obligations at the lowest possible cost within acceptable risk parameters.
Edghill said that this approach would engender the continued sustainability of Guyana’s public debt, which totalled US$1.79 billion at end-2019, a 1.1 percent decline compared to the end-2018 position of US$1.71 billion. This decline was attributed to reductions in both external and domestic public debt, the Minister stated.
With respect to external public debt, Edghill said that this decreased by 1.3 percent, from US$1.32 billion at the end of 2018, to US$1.31 billion at the end of 2019, mainly on account of a US$50.7 million debt reduction granted by Kuwait, after the finalisation and signing of a bilateral debt settlement agreement in March 2019.
As for domestic debt stock, Minister Edghill said that this declined by 0.7 percent, from US$386.3 million at the end of 2018, to US$383.6 million at the end of 2019, mainly due to principal repayments under a National Insurance Scheme (NIS) Debenture and on Treasury Bills (T-bills).
Going forward, Edghill said that the government intends to strengthen Guyana’s governance architecture for public debt management by undertaking a transformative work programme, which would entail the completion and enactment of a Public Debt Management Bill. Edghill said that the enactment of this Bill would promote transparency, accountability and sustainability by enshrining and reinforcing key elements of sound debt management. These elements include: the authority to borrow and debt ceilings; the establishment of clear debt management objectives; the mandatory formulation and implementation of a Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy and an Annual Borrowing Plan, among others.