South Korea’s national debt to exceed $496 bn

Seoul, Jan 31 (IANS) South Korea’s national debt is expected to exceed 600 trillion won ($496 billion) for the first time ever this week, the National Assembly said on Sunday.

According to data released by the National Assembly Budget Office, the national debt could reach 644.9 trillion won by the end of the year — a 49.8 trillion won increase from the 595.1 trillion won estimated in late 2015, The Korea Herald reported.

The total could even hit the 700 trillion mark in 2017, and 761 trillion won by 2019, based on the government’s fiscal management plan, it added.

The debt is growing at a fast pace mainly because the government increased borrowing to fuel the sluggish economy in recent years.

The size of the debt has been growing even faster as Korea suffered deficits in its tax revenue for four consecutive years from 2011 and 2014, the office said.

The swelling national debt could impose a deadweight burden on Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the parliamentary research office said, pointing to the fast growing ratio of national debt to gross domestic product.

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