The Korea Herald


Government debt rising at worrisome pace

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Jan. 5, 2014 - 19:44

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South Korea’s level of national debt is lower than other major economies, but its pace of increase over the past 10 years is a source of concern, finance and budget officials said Sunday.

An estimate based on the 2014 budget puts the year’s government debt at 514.8 trillion won ($487.96 billion), up 50.1 trillion won from 2013.

The projected ratio of debt to gross domestic product is 36.4 percent, well below the 108.8 percent average of member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 2012, but the pace of its rise has quickened in recent years, officials said.

Between 2000 and 2012, South Korean debt increased an average of 12.3 percent per year, higher than Southern European nations suffering from fiscal crisis including Spain, Greece and Italy. For 2008-14, the annual increase measured 8.9 percent.

South Korea ranked seventh in terms of its debt increase among the 34 OECD nations.

The country’s government liabilities had spiked in the late 1990s from the Asian financial crisis and its aftermath as the government had to inject massive public funds to prop up the economy, and again in 2008 from the global downturn originating from Wall Street. (Yonhap News)