South Korea-issued bonds hit 1,000.2 trillion won ($885.52 billion) as of early last week, surpassing the 1,000 trillion-won mark for the first time, the Korea Financial Investment Association said Monday.
Government bonds accounted for 671.64 trillion won of the total, and purpose bonds 328.56 trillion won Tuesday. The sum is more than double the 427 trillion won in 2008, the year the country was swept up in a global financial crisis. Bond issuance has been on the increase in recent years, recording 801 trillion won in 2014, 879 trillion won in 2015, 918 trillion won in 2016 and 953 trillion won in 2017.
Debt sales from government bonds showed big increases, while those from purpose bonds actually decreased.
Government bonds issued as of Tuesday totaled 672 trillion won, up by some 56 trillion won from the end of last year. By comparison, the increase during the same period last year was 45 trillion won.
KOFIA said the rise in government bonds, however, is not from issuance but a fall in debt repayment. While the government has issued 83 trillion won in state bonds this year through Tuesday, the repayment came to 27 trillion won, much less than the 41 trillion won during the same period last year.
For purpose bonds, the issuance during the same measured days came to 34 trillion won, while the repayment exceeded the amount at 44 trillion won.
Sales of purpose bonds, used in financing state projects, had jumped during the Lee Myung-bak administration, which launched a major river refurbishment plan, but were held steady afterward. The total was 334 trillion won in 2015, 337 trillion won in 2016 and 338 trillion won in 2017.
Watchers expect the sum of government bonds to be affected by how much the government can finance its economic policies, such as an increase in welfare and job creation, with tax revenue.
The finance ministry's most recent economic assessment said the government collected 157.2 trillion won in taxes in the first half of the year, 19.3 trillion won more than the same months last year.
The fall in debt repayment indicates that the government is stocking up on reserve money to implement its economic plan.
"Tax revenue last year and this year were well secured, and the reason why the government debts were paid back less is probably because the money was being used elsewhere," Kim Sang-hoon of KB Securities Co. said. "If the debts are repaid less, then we won't have to issue bonds when we need funds." (Yonhap)