A senior Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) official said an average of 97 percent of the auction of government debt papers is sold to a group of local banks as well as the CBM and MEHCL. “CBM and MEHCL always purchase major portions of the debt issued,” the official added.
Other state-owned banks that back government debt issuances include Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank.
According to the monthly CBM auctions, Kanbawza Bank, Ayeyarwady Bank, Co-operative Bank, Myanmar Apex Bank, Yoma Bank and Myawaddy Bank were major purchasers of government-issued bonds and bills.
All these banks belong to tycoons with close government links and in addition, have much influence in the economy through other assets that they own, including valuable real estate, airlines and stakes in various manufacturing and services subsectors.
In Myanmar, bonds refer to longer-dated debt, usually in the five to 10-year range, while bills refer to short-term debt, usually less than a year. Debt raised from government-issued bonds and bills are channelled towards plugging the budget deficit.
According to CBM officials, shorter-term debt records generate the most demand due to the interest rate differentials between bonds and bills, with bonds having higher interest rates and bills having lower interest rates.
The government funded the deficit for fiscal 2017-18, which ran from April 1, 2017 to March 30, 2018, through issuing a total of K1.3 trillion for bonds and K5.8 trillion worth of short-term bills. Most of the purchases were from private-sector banks.
A total of K930.3 billion of three-year bonds were auctioned at 8.99pc and 10pc interest rates in fiscal 2017-18, while a total of K395.2 billion of five-year bonds were auctioned at 9.67pc and 10.2pc interest rates.
A total of K4.8 trillion of three-month bills were auctioned at 6.75pc and 8.15pc, K846.72 billion of six-month bills were auctioned at 7.2pc and 8.7pc and K125 billion of one-year bills were auctioned at 8.6pc and 9pc.
A total of K316.92 billion in interests were paid for bonds in fiscal 2017-18 while K728.5 billion was repaid for bills. Another K17.6 billion was paid to CBM for debt management.
According to the World Bank, the share of CBM financing of the deficit has been declining from a high of 61pc of total domestic financing in 2015-16 to practically zero during six-month period between April 1 and September 30 and first two months of 2018-19, with bond and bill auctions almost fully meeting domestic financing needs, with issuance higher than initially planned in October and November 2018.