India’s external debt decreases by 2.7 percent

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The Ministry of Finance on Friday released India’s External Debt report 2016-17.

The External Debt stock stood at USD 471.9 billion at end-March 2017. This represents a decrease of USD 13.1 billion (2.7 per cent) over the level at end-March 2016.

The salient features of the report are:

• India’s external debt stock stood at USD 471.9 billion at end-March 2017, decreasing by USD 13.1 billion (2.7 per cent) over the level at end-March 2016.

• The decline in external debt was due to the decrease in long-term debt particularly NRI deposits and commercial borrowings.

• At end-March 2017, long-term external debt was USD 383.9 billion, showing a decrease of 4.4 per cent over the level at end-March 2016. Long-term external debt accounted for 81.4 per cent of total external debt at end-March 2017 as compared to 82.8 per cent at end-March 2016.

• Short-term external debt increased by 5.5 per cent to USD 88.0 billion at end-March 2017. This is mainly due to the increase in trade related credits, a major component of short-term debt with a share of 98.3 per cent.

• Government (sovereign) external debt increased from USD 93.4 billion at end-March 2016 to US$ 95.8 billion at end-March 2017, and constituted 20.3 per cent of the total external debt, as compared to 19.3 per cent in the previous year.

• India’s external debt has remained within manageable limits and the external debt situation has improved in 2016-17 over 2015-16 as indicated by the increase in foreign exchange reserves cover to debt to 78.4 per cent from 74.3 per cent, and fall in the external debt-GDP ratio to 20.2 per cent from 23.5 per cent. External debt of the country continues to be dominated by the long-term borrowings.

A cross country comparison based on ‘ International Debt Statistics 2017’ of the World Bank which presents the debt data for 2015, shows that India continues to be among the less vulnerable countries with its external debt indicators comparing well with other indebted developing countries.

The ratio of India’s external debt stock to gross national income (GNI) at 23.4 per cent was the fifth lowest and in terms of the cover provided by foreign exchange reserves to external debt, India’s position was sixth highest at 69.7 per cent in 2015.


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