Cambodia’s public debt stands at $10 billion

The Cambodian government had a total public debt stock of $10.23 billion as of March 2023, according to the Cambodia Public Debt Statistical Bulletin, published by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The public debt comprised 67 percent from bilateral Developing Partners (DPs), 33 percent from multilateral DPs and 0.41 percent public domestic debt, the bulletin said.

The public debt stock is composed of foreign currencies, of which 43 percent is US dollar, 21 percent is SDR (Special Drawing Rights), 12 percent is Chinese yuan, 11 percent is Japanese yen, 7 percent is euro and the rest is local and other currencies, the bulletin said.

During the January-September period this year, the government had signed new concessional loans with DPs of $1.21 billion, which accounted for 59 percent of the ceiling permitted by law, it said.

In the first quarter 2023, the government issued government securities in the total amount of KHR100 billion equivalent to $24.67 million accounting for 12.30 percent of the ceiling permitted by law (KHR 813 billion) for financing support to the public investments for economic growth and productivity.

Overall, all the loans are highly concessional with an average grant element of around 42 percent, the bulletin said.

“The purpose of these newly signed loans is to finance public investment projects in the priority sectors that support long-term sustainable economic growth and increase economic productivity and production,” the ministry said in the bulletin.

According to the bulletin, during the first three months of this year, the government had paid debt services of $180.68 million, of which $180.58 million is for public external debt with principal $139.98 million and interest and other fees $40.60 million and equivalent to $0.10 million as interest paid for public domestic debt.

The ministry said the preliminary result of the Debt Sustainability Analysis showed that despite being impacted by the Covid-19 and other external factors, Cambodia’s public debt situation continues to remain “sustainable” and “low risk” of debt distress.

“All the key debt indicators in 2023 are well below the thresholds, of which the main debt indicator, the Present Value of Public and Publicly Guaranteed External Debt to GDP, is at 24.9 percent compared to the 40 percent threshold,” the bulletin said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that Cambodia is on track to graduate from the least developed country status in 2027 and to become a higher-middle income country by 2030.

Once reached that goal, Cambodia will definitely lose preferences in concessional loans from developing partners, he said at a graduation ceremony in May.

The Prime Minister said that he has talked with developing partners — China, South Korea, and Japan — about keeping the country’s concessional loans once it graduated to a high-medium income nation by 2030.