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State debt sales hit record high amid virus outbreak in Q1

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea's state bond sales reached a new high in the first quarter of the year due to more fiscal spending to cushion the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus outbreak, data showed Monday.

The government issued 62.4 trillion won ($51.5 billion) in state bonds and Treasurys in the January-March period, up 29.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Financial Investment Association.

The tally is up a whopping 156 percent from the previous quarter and marks the largest all-time quarterly tally. The previous record was 56.2 trillion won set in the second quarter of last year.

The net issuance of state debt, or the value of bonds issued minus those paid back, also soared to an all-time high of 49.7 trillion won in the first quarter.

The jump in first-quarter state debt sales was attributed to a package of government measures to help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the economy.

In mid-March, South Korea's parliament passed a 11.7 trillion-won supplementary bill, 10.3 trillion won of which comes from state bond issues, to help firms and households struggling under the strain of the disease.

The outbreak of the coronavirus, whose first confirmed case was reported in South Korea on Jan. 20, has hit Asia's fourth-largest economy hard, sparking a string of projections of negative growth for this year.

As of end-March, the value of outstanding state bonds stood at 737.5 trillion won, up 49.7 trillion won from three months earlier.

Market watchers forecast the issuance of government bonds to keep increasing in the second quarter of the year due to the prolonged coronavirus outbreak.

Top economic policymakers have recently floated the idea of drawing up additional extra budgets in an effort to cope with the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak. (Yonhap)
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