The debt reduction has created fiscal space, but in the short run maintaining the peg calls for containing domestic borrowing close to current levels. With external debt within thresholds, the debt sustainability analysis indicates that Nepal is at moderate risk of debt distress (see Annex 1). This fiscal room could be used for building infrastructure and human capital, and for the peace process, provided spending quality is ensured. But, in the short term the worsening external position requires that domestically financed deficits remain close to current levels, while the overall deficit could be expanded provided it is funded with external grants or concessional debt. The main considerations in determining the appropriate fiscal stance are;
Debt level target. Nepal’s external debt, with an NPV of debt-to-GDP ratio of 21¾ percent, and an NPV of debt-to-exports-and remittances ratio of 63 percent, is well within DSA thresholds. Nepal’s public debt is well below the average of comparators. However, contingent liabilities of some 2–3 percent of GDP arising from the required recapitalization of state-owned banks, and potential additional liabilities stemming from the weak financial sector suggest that adequate cushions be maintained. In sum, a public debt target of around 40 percent would be appropriate to anchor fiscal policy. To stabilize the public debt-to-GDP ratio in the long run at this level, the overall deficit could rise to 3½ percent of GDP, and the domestically financed deficit would be in the range of 2¼–2½ percent of GDP, higher than in previous years.
Support for the peg and demand management. The expected slowdown in output growth would suggest a more expansionary fiscal stance in the short term. However, inflationary pressures remain high, and the peg to the Indian rupee requires that domestically financed deficits remain contained.
Crowding out and borrowing costs. A high money-to-GDP ratio suggests that, in the longer run, a somewhat higher domestic debt burden can be accommodated. However, in the short run, the expected slowdown in money growth due to the deteriorating external position, public sector borrowing may need to be contained to leave sufficient room for private credit and control interest costsSource: Nepal: 2010 Article IV Consultation and Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility - Staff Report