Tanzania’s National Debt Rises to $36.08 Billion

The Bank of Tanzania says the East African country’s national debt stood at $36.08 billion as of November 30, 2021, an increase of $5.34 billion year-on-year from November 2020.

The regulator, in its latest published figure, reveals that external debt closed at $27.95 billion, a $215.8 million drop from October; it attributes the decline to debt servicing payments outweighing disbursements during the month. But the debt was still higher by $4.12 billion compared with November 2020.

Those figures were released in response to disparaging remarks about the country’s growing debt made by then National Assembly Speaker Job Ndugai, triggering a political backlash and his resignation.

BoT reported that debt service payments in November totaled $171.4 million, of which $114.2 million was principal repayments whereas the rest was interest payments.

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Transport and telecommunications-related activities accounted for at least 23.1% of external borrowing, followed by social welfare and education (16.1%) and energy and mining (16%).

Domestic debt increased by $439.37 million from October to November 2020, and by $1.2 billion from November to October. The bank explained the increase as largely the result of the government using the overdraft facility.

Federal government bonds represented 83.8% of total domestic debt, while commercial banks and pension funds accounted for over 60% of it.

Treasury bills at 103.8 billion ($45.15 million) and Treasury bonds at 135.29 million ($183.76 million) in total value were issued for budgetary operations.

The current account deficit widened from $1.14 billion in the corresponding period of 2020 to $1.78 billion in the year ending November 2021, due to higher imports of goods.

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In the overall balance of payments, there was a shift from a deficit of $906.4″ to a surplus of $1.90 billion, which BoT attributed to “foreign financial inflows.”

Goods and services exports also surpassed $8.61 billion in the year ending November 2021, thanks to a 12.5% increase in the value of non-traditional goods exports.

Among goods exported, gold accounted for 44.1% of the value ($2.81 billion), while exports of manufactured goods increased from $894.8 million to $119 billion due to increased exports of cosmetics, iron and steel, plastics, and paper products.

BoT reports that exports of rice, maize, and beans to neighbouring countries have also increased, indicating an improvement in regional trade.

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Imports increased to $11.25 billion in the year ending November 2021 from $9.27 billion in the corresponding period in 2020.

“The increase was observed in all import categories, with a significant rise in oil, industrial raw materials and transport equipment,” BoT said.

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