Vietnam State Firms to Sell Bonds Abroad as Budget Risk Climbs

Vietnam’s government is drawing up a plan for overseas bond sales by some of its biggest state-owned companies to help bridge a budget deficit, according to a finance ministry official.

“We expect companies to sell bonds overseas to fund their development projects and help ease pressure on the state budget,” Dang Quyet Tien, deputy general director of the finance ministry’s corporate finance department, said in an interview in Hanoi Thursday. “The state budget is running a deficit and under a lot of pressure.”

Vietnam’s fiscal accounts are emerging as a source of concern and its debt servicing costs could pose an increasing burden on its budget, the World Bank said this month. The finance ministry this week asked the central bank to lend 30 trillion dong ($1.4 billion) to help fund the shortfall, and last week published names of about 600 companies that owe taxes, in a bid to shame them into paying their dues.

Vietnam’s national debt may climb to a record 64 percent of gross domestic product by the end of 2015, according to some estimates. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung began warning about “great payment pressure” earlier this year, even as he has pledged to spend more on infrastructure to spur economic growth.

Companies including Vietnam Airlines, Vietnam Garment & Textile Co. and Vietnam National Coal & Mineral Industries Corp. will tap overseas markets starting next year, Tien said. The government won’t provide guarantees to these issues as it has in the past, he said.

“These companies all have great demand for capital to fund their projects,” Tien said. They “must improve corporate governance and be more transparent to get decent ratings from international ratings companies to attract buyers.”

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