Sustainability of the external public debt has been one of Georgia’s key sovereign credit strengths, also acknowledged by the international rating agencies – Standard and Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s – with which Georgia has been working in the recent years. This sustainability has been achieved through years of managing external public debt in a pragmatic and conservative manner, also through allocating proceeds of the borrowing in a forward-looking way, in line with the national development and investment priorities.Georgia’s external public borrowing today is primarily viewed as the source of procuring additional external financing – chiefly on concessional terms - for addressing infrastructure needs and other development bottlenecks in Georgia.
The Ministry of Finance of Georgia is the only state entity which is authorized to negotiate loans with foreign governments and regional and international financial institutions. In 2008, this ministry has been in charge of the issuance of the debut Eurobond for Georgia – the transaction which has created a strong Georgia benchmark in the international capital markets, achieved great distribution diversity and successfully introduced the country to a large number of fixed-income investors. In 2011, Georgia successfully priced its second 10-year Eurobond at the exceptionally favorable terms that ranked at par with higher rated sovereign peers. This transaction helped reduce the amount of debt amortization in 2013 by allowing to redeem ahead of maturity Georgia’s previously issued 5-year sovereign Eurobond.
Treasury bills and Treasury bonds are Lari denominated state securities issued by the Ministry of Finance of Georgia. The ministry has been issuing Treasury bills (T-bills) and Treasury bonds (T-bonds) to facilitate development of domestic financial and capital markets and to diversify sources of budget financing by attracting stable, domestic currency denominated capital.
Affordable Public Debt Situation and Very Low Interest Rate on External Public Debt
External Government debt portfolio (31 Dec 2018) represents 81% of the total Government debt. The bulk of this portfolio is owed to official multilateral and bilateral donors chiefly on concessional terms. This favorable composition of the external government debt portfolio allows to sustain exceptionally low portfolio weighted average interest rate of only 2.2% per annum.
Rapidly growing budget revenues, very low average interest rate and flat repayment profile with easily affordable annual repayment volumes have been the key factors behind the downward sloping and consistently low government external debt service ratios. Only very small portion of budget revenues is earmarked for debt service in any single fiscal year, allowing to devote budget appropriations to the fullest possible extent towards addressing national development priorities and to funding social assistance programs.
59% of the external public debt portfolio (31 DEC 2018) carries fixed interest rate. This safeguards Georgia's external public debt service parameters from exogenous interest rate fluctuations and ensures that external public debt service costs will remain low and affordable despite uncertain global economic environment.
Georgia's Eurobonds have been consistently priced above par, while yields have declined substantially since the issuance. This favorable price/yield tendency affirms continuous trust by the international investor community in the political and economic dynamics in the country.
To foster the development of domestic capital market and also driven by investor demand, the Ministry of Finance of Georgia has been gradually increasing the outstanding stock of the Treasuries and extending maturity from 6 months to 10 years. In 2012, Ministry of Finance of Georgia started issuing 10 year T-notes. At the same time, interest rates (coupon and discount rates) have been steadily falling, reflecting strong confidence of investors in the fiscal policy stance and stable macroeconomic framework.
The Ministry of Finance of Georgia is the leading agency in charge of international donor coordination and the associated donor mapping exercise. The key goal of the donor coordination effort is to achieve efficiency gains in the application of international donor assistance and to ensure that donor financed projects and programs are aligned with national economic and social development priorities. In this context, one of the key priority tasks of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia is to ensure that international donor financing is received on as concessional terms as possible with a view to maintaining existing very favorable characteristics of the public debt portfolio.
Brussels Pledge: Funds Committed for Public Sector Operations by Donors
An international donors' conference for Georgia was convened in Brussels in October 2008, with participation of more than 35 countries and international donor organizations. Total of USD 4.5 billion in concessional financing was pledged to Georgia to boost the economy in the short-run and lay down the groundwork for longer-run growth and competitiveness. The resounding success of the conference served as an important testament of firm political and economic support of the international community for Georgia.
Brussels Pledge: Sectoral Distribution of Committed Amounts
Since the Brussels conference, implementation of donor pledges has been ongoing exceptionally well. Pledges have been turned into the firm contractual commitments with respect to the full amount of financing promised at the Brussels conference. These commitments imply provision of long-term concessional loans and grants for financing of priority infrastructure schemes in transport, energy, agriculture, urban and municipal development, also for private sector and state budget support and for improving living conditions of internally displaced persons. Large portion of this assistance has been disbursed. Absorption of the remaining amount will continue in line with the dynamics of implementation of construction works under the donor funded infrastructure schemes. Such schedule of absorption of concessional donor funding, will help galvanize economic growth and employment for years down the line and thus ensure resilience of Georgia's economy from adverse global economic factors.