CNMI public debt lowers, Guam more than doubles

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Posted on Oct 13 2017

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In terms of public debt, the CNMI is doing better than Guam, based on the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s public debt report on the five U.S. territories.

According to the report, the CNMI’s public debt went down from $251.7 million in fiscal year 2005 to $144.7 million in fiscal year 2015—a decline of $107 million.

Comparatively, Guam’s public debt more than doubled—from almost $1 billion in fiscal year 2005 to $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2015, the GAO report noted.

The CNMI government issued a general obligation bond of about $100.5 million in fiscal year 2007. The money raised was used to refinance two prior bonds issued during fiscal years 2000 and 2003, with most of the CNMI’s bonded debt outstanding scheduled to mature in 2030 or later.

Between fiscal years 2005 and 2015, public debt outstanding as a share of gross domestic product, or GDP, grew from 23 percent in fiscal year 2005 to 26 percent in fiscal year 2007 before ultimately falling to 16 percent at the end of fiscal year 2015, while bonded debt outstanding as a share of GDP was 14 percent for both fiscal years 2005 and 2015, but spiked to 19 percent in fiscal year 2011.

The CNMI public debt per capita reportedly declined from about $4,199 per person in fiscal year 2007 to $2,776 per person in fiscal year 2015.

Guam’s public debt, on the other hand, increased in fiscal years 2008 to 2015 at an average of 13 percent per year.

Majority of Guam’s public debt is said to be in the form of bonds. The bonds comprise between 93 to 97 percent of total public debt outstanding from fiscal years 2005 to 2015 and are scheduled to mature in 2027 onwards.

Guam’s total public debt outstanding as a share of GDP increased from 24 percent to 44 percent between fiscal years 2005 and 2015, while bonded debt outstanding shared a similar growth from 22 percent of GDP to 42 percent of GDP for the same period.

Guam’s public debt per capita reportedly more than doubled between fiscal years 2005 and 2015, with total public debt per capita rising from $6,270 per person in fiscal year 2005 to $15,323 per person in fiscal year 2015 while bonded public debt outstanding increased from $5,810 per person to $14,759 per person for the same time period.

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Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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