|16 July, 2019

Lebanon's gross public debt stands at $85bln at end-May 2019

Debt denominated in Lebanese pounds totaled $53.2bln at end-May 2019

Image for illustrative purposes.

Image for illustrative purposes.

Getty Images/Sutthipong Kongtrakool

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s gross public debt up to May 2019 rose by 0.3 percent to $85.4 billion compared to $85.1 billion in the same period of 2018. “In nominal terms, the gross public debt grew by $230.2 million in the first five months of 2019 relative to an increase of $3 billion in the same period of 2018,” Byblos Bank’s Lebanon This Week said Monday.

Debt denominated in Lebanese pounds totaled $53.2 billion at end-May 2019, up by 3.1 percent from the end of 2018 and by 13.7 percent from end-May 2018; while debt denominated in foreign currency stood at $32.1 billion, a decrease of 4 percent from end-2018 and a of 9.9 percent from end-May 2018.

“Local currency debt accounted for 62.3 percent of the gross public debt at the end of May 2019 compared to 56.7 percent a year earlier, while foreign currency-denominated debt represented the balance of 37.7 percent relative to 43.3 percent at end-May 2018. The weighted interest rate on outstanding Treasury bills was 6.33 percent and the rate on Eurobonds was 6.84 percent in May 2019. Further, the weighted life on Eurobonds was 7.7 years, while it was 1,627 days on Treasury bills,” the report said.

It added that commercial banks held 38.2 percent of the public debt at end-May 2019 relative to 41.1 percent of the total at end-May 2018.

“BDL held 52.6 percent of the Lebanese pound-denominated public debt at the end of May 2019 compared to 46.3 percent a year earlier, while commercial banks held 33.4 percent of the local debt compared to 37.6 percent at end-May 2018.”

It added that public agencies, financial institutions and the public held 14 percent of the local debt at end-May 2019 relative to 16.1 percent at end-May 2018.

Furthermore, holders of Eurobonds and special T-bills in foreign currencies accounted for 93.7 percent of foreign currency-denominated debt holders at the end of May 2019, followed by multilateral institutions with 4.2 percent and foreign governments with 2.1 percent.

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