【英语中国】中国地方政府债务3年增70%

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2014-1-1 08:44

小艾摘要: Local government debt levels in China have soared to almost $3tn in less than three years, according to an official audit highlighting one of Beijing’s most daunting challenges as it attempts to sust ...
Local government debt levels in China have soared to almost $3tn in less than three years, according to an official audit highlighting one of Beijing’s most daunting challenges as it attempts to sustain economic growth while avoiding a financial crisis.

In a long-awaited report, China’s National Audit Office said local government debts had increased almost 70 per cent to reach Rmb17.9tn ($2.95tn) by the end of June.

The NAO, whose last survey put the burden at Rmb10.7tn at the end of 2010, added that while government debt levels were generally “under control”, there were “potential risks in some places”.

Yesterday’s audit, which included contingent liabilities and debt guarantees, was ordered by the State Council in June. Xiang Huaicheng, former finance minister, had previously estimated that local government debts could exceed Rmb20tn.

Officials and analysts have long worried about the amount of debt racked up by local governments, which are not allowed to tap banks directly but establish special purpose vehicles to borrow money.

Such borrowing, often secured against local land values, has helped China achieve impressive rates of growth.

There are increasing fears, however, of a hard landing for the economy as Beijing enforces fiscal discipline on local government borrowers. China’s short-term funding costs approached

9 per cent earlier this month before moderating towards the end of last week.

Speaking at the weekend, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said his government would guarantee “appropriate liquidity” and “reasonable growth in credit” next year.

In a recent report to China’s parliament, the State Council predicted a final GDP growth figure of 7.6 per cent for 2013, compared with 7.7 per cent last year and a post-crisis high of 10.4 per cent in 2010.

The NAO’s latest estimate for local government debt is equivalent to a little more than 30 per cent of gross domestic product, compared with 25 per cent of GDP at the end of 2010. “The pace of [local government] debt accumulation in recent years has been too fast and is not sustainable,” said Wang Tao, economist at UBS.

According to Ting Lu, economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, China’s total public debt now stands at 53.3 per cent of GDP, with corporate debt estimated at 111 per cent.

“The markets and the Chinese government should be alarmed by the rapidly rising leverage,” Mr Lu said in a note. “But we do not believe China is on the brink of a debt crisis, especially if the new leaders can take decisive measures to arrest rising leverage.”

Zhang Ke, a senior Chinese auditor, warned in April that local government borrowing was “out of control” and could spark a massive financial crisis.

Additional reporting by Emma Dong

官方审计发现,中国地方政府债务已在不到3年的时间内飙升至近3万亿美元,凸显出中国政府最为艰巨的一项任务:既要试图维持经济增长,又要防范金融危机。

中国国家审计署(National Audit Office)在外界期待已久的一份报告中表示,截至2013年6月底,地方政府债务增长近70%,达到17.9万亿元人民币(2.95万亿美元)。

审计署的上一次调查在2010年底进行,当时计算出的债务总额是10.7万亿元人民币。该机构补充称,尽管政府债务水平总体“可控”,但“有的地方也存在一定的风险隐患”。

中国国务院在6月份下令进行此次审计,审计项目包括或有债务和政府负有担保责任的债务。前财政部部长项怀诚曾估计,地方政府债务可能超过20万亿元人民币。

长期以来,官员和分析人士一直担忧地方政府积累的债务。政府按规定不能向银行直接借债,但可以成立“特殊目的载体”(SPV)借钱。

此类借债往往有地方土地价值作为担保,它帮助中国实现了惊人的经济增长率。

但由于中央政府强令地方政府借款方遵守财政纪律,外界日益担心经济硬着陆风险。中国的短期融资成本12月早些时候一度接近9%,直到上周末才有所缓和。

中国总理李克强在上周末的讲话中称,本届政府明年将保障“适度流动性”,实现“信贷合理增长”。

近期国务院向中国人大报告称,预计2013年最终的GDP增幅将为7.6%。去年GDP增幅为7.7%,全球金融危机后的最高值是2010年的10.4%。

国家审计署本次的地方政府债务估值相当于GDP的30%多一点,而在2010年底该比例为25%。瑞银(UBS)经济学家汪涛表示:“近年(地方政府)债务增速过快,不可持续。”

美银美林(Bank of America Merrill Lynch)经济学家陆挺表示,中国公共债务总额现在相当于GDP的53.3%,企业债务估计相当于GDP的111%。

“市场和中国政府应当警惕快速上升的杠杆,”陆挺在一份简报中表示,“但我们不认为中国濒临债务危机,尤其是在新领导人能够采取果断措施遏制杠杆上升的情况下。”

中国审计界资深人士张克4月份曾表示,中国地方政府债务已经“失控”,可能引发大规模金融危机。

董慧(Emma Dong)补充报道

译者/何黎

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