Government debt drops to $1 billion

Total Government debt for the March quarter of this year stands at $1 billion, with foreign loans dipping to a three-year low, new figures released by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics show.

The data released by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) show that outstanding debt decreased by $83.0 million or 7.6 per cent on an annual basis when compared to the same quarter the year prior.

The report, signed by the bureau’s Chief Executive Officer, Aliimuamua Malaefono Taua, is titled, “Government Finance Statistics” and was released this week covering the Government’s financial position including the liquidity of its financial assets. 

The vast majority of outstanding loans were to external creditors. External debt amounted to $996.8 million or 99.5 per cent of Government debt. 

The S.B.S. figures show that from the December 2018 quarter to March 2021, this is the first time external debt has ever dropped below the $1 billion benchmark. 

With only about 0.5 per cent or $5.5 million money owed to domestic financial institutions. 

The nation’s overall debt burden is a mix of money owed to multilateral and bilateral creditors and donors. 

 “Multilateral loans as at the end of the quarter amounted to $523.7 million,” the bureau's report said. 

That equates to a year-on-year decrease of $67.1 million, which is an amount equivalent to 11.4 per cent, the report said. 

“The majority of borrowings were from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank amounting to $291.4 million and $207.3 million respectively,” the bureau concluded. 

“Loans through bilateral agreements [such as] the Government of the People’s Republic of China (P.R.C.) and Japan (J.I.C.A.) amounted to $473.1 million.

“Of this amount, loans from the P.R.C. amounted to $392.1 million and $81.0 million was from J.I.C.A. Both loans decreased by $0.1 million and $11.8 million respectively when compared to the corresponding quarter of last year (March 2020).”

Outstanding domestic debt decreased by $4.0 million or 42.2 per on an annual basis; on a quarterly basis money owed fell by $800,000 or another 12 per cent. 

The report said that all recorded grants received by the Government from foreign donors during the quarter stood at $3.2 million. 

"On a yearly basis, grants received declined by 92.6 per cent (or $40.4 million) compared to March 2020,” the bureau said. 

"When compared to the previous quarter, grants also went down by 96.0 per cent (or $76.8 million)."

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