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Warnings given about the dark side of local authorities bond issuance

VietNamNet Bridge – Issuing local authorities bonds proves to be the only
solution for localities now to cover the local budget deficit. However, this may
be a big threat, according to experts.

 

Vietnam, government bond, investment, commercial banks, interest rates

On January 3, 2013, the Vietnam News Agency reported that the Da Nang City
People’s Committee issued local authorities bonds worth VND5 trillion.

In 2012, the state budget faced the overspending with the deficit by the end of
November 2012 reaching US$6.2 billion,

Experts have pointed out that the Decree No. 01 in 2011 on the government bond
issuance and the Circular No. 81 in 2012 by the Ministry of Finance have both
accidentally generated a wave of issuing local authorities bonds as the methods
to offset the deficits, despite the warnings about the possible threats.

A government’s report showed that VND68.292 trillion worth of government bonds
were issued in 201, while the figure was VND80.447 trillion in 2011 and it is
expected to reach 120 trillion dong in 2012.

HCM City, Da Nang and many other localities have proposed to issue local
authorities bonds to raise money to spend on necessary things. It would be very
dangerous if the race of issuing local authorities bonds does not aim to fund
the policy implementation or the projects, but just aims to fill in the empty
budgets to ensure the implementation of the GDP plan.

If bonds are issued just to make the budget full, the money would no more have
the capability of creating new products through the investment and production
process. As such, the money would lose its main function as the means for
exchange, while it would get frozen, thus bringing damages to the national
economy.

In another scenario, the money to be raised from bond issuance would be poured
into public investments. This would bring some certain effects. However, if
overly high amounts of money is poured into public investments, the investments
from the private economic sector, a very important link of the national economy,
would see its wings clipped, i.e. that the private investments would be blocked
and would not be able to thrive.

A research work by Nguyen Tri Dung, the coordinator of the macroeconomic
consultancy project of the National Assembly’s Economics Committee in 2000-2010,
has found out that every one percent of the public investment increase would
lead to the 0.48 percent decrease of private investment after one decade.

Besides, the possible public debt crisis should be seen as a high risk hung over
the local authorities in case they cannot pay debts.

A report showed that by the end of 2011, Vietnam’s public debt had accounted for
55 percent of GDP, much higher than the average level of 30 percent in other
Asian countries.

Once local authorities issue bonds in masses but cannot pay debts, the
government would become the unwilling debtor. Therefore, worries have been
raised about the decision to lift the ceiling public debts to 65 percent by
2015.

Analysts say Vietnam should learn the lesson from China.

In November 2011, the Chinese Ministry of Finance released a controversial
decision on allowing two provinces Zhejiang and Guangdong and two big cities of
Shanghai and Shen Zhen releasing 3-5 year local authorities bonds. However, in
June 2012, the ministry had to released a decision to stop the bond issuance.

SGTT

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