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Debt level nears intl warning level: report

By Zheng Yangpeng  (Chinadaily.com.cn)

13:26, October 24, 2012

China's debt level may be approaching the international warning level, a report by a think tank under China's cabinet said on Monday.

By the end of 2010, the country's total liabilities had reached 23.76 trillion yuan ($3.8 trillion), 59 percent of that year's GDP, the Development Research Center of the State Council said.

Most of those loans are thought to be short-term loans, which need to be repaid this year or next year.

Repayment dates are approaching for the loans arranged in 2009, when the state rolled out a huge stimulus package to bail out the economy, which was hit hard by the financial tsunami at the time, said Wei Jianing, one of the authors of the report.

However, the strict purchase limits imposed on the property market led to dwindling fiscal incomes for local governments, threatening their repayment abilities, said Wei.

Forty-two percent of the local governments' debt needs to be repaid by the end of 2012, while another 53 percent will be repaid by the end of 2013, according to a report by the National Audit Office.

The local governments' debt has reached 10.7 trillion yuan, up from 4 trillion yuan in 2006, said the National Audit Office.

Experts warned that the major risks lie in the various local financing vehicles, through which 4.97 trillion yuan were borrowed.

Local governments set up the financing vehicles to fund projects such as highways and airports due to the limits on their ability to directly borrow money. About 26 percent of these financing vehicles are registering losses.

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