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S. Korea's national debt tops 600 tln won in 2016

All News 10:44 January 22, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's national debt exceeded 600 trillion won (US$510 billion) for the first time in 2016, due to increased spending on social welfare and economy-boosting measures, data showed Sunday.

According to the National Assembly Budget Office (NABO), the country's national debt reached 638.5 trillion won at the end of last year, with an average 12.5 million won in debt per person.

For the year, the figure is expected to reach 682.1 trillion won, the parliamentary office estimated. National debt refers to the total outstanding borrowings of central and local governments owing to the central bank and domestic and foreign creditors. The figure does not include debt owed by state firms and the Bank of Korea, the country's central bank.

In line with a rise in the economy's size, the country's national debt climbed to 309 trillion won in 2008, 392.2 trillion won in 2010, 443.1 trillion won in 2012 and 591.5 trillion won in 2015.

Per-person national debt also has been increasing, reaching 5.14 million won in 2005, 7.91 million won in 2010, 9.71 million won in 2013 and 11.59 million won in 2015.

The sharp rise in national debt is attributable to a large increase in spending on social welfare and fiscal policy aimed at helping Asia's fourth-largest economy recover its growth momentum.

In the first 11 months of last year, the country's budget deficit reached 14.7 trillion won despite a surge in tax income. The figure is estimated to have topped the 10 trillion-won level last year.

In 2009, the country's budget deficit reached 43.2 trillion won in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis but narrowed to 13.5 trillion won in 2011.

But for recent years, the shortfall has expanded again, reaching 29.5 trillion won in 2014 and 38 trillion won in 2015, according to government data.

S. Korea's national debt tops 600 tln won in 2016 - 1

sam@yna.co.kr
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