June 5, 2020 / 8:07 AM / 2 months ago

Austria almost doubles 2020 debt issuance plans after COVID-19 outbreak

VIENNA, June 5 (Reuters) - Austria on Friday almost doubled the amount of debt it plans to issue this year as coronavirus-related emergency aid has helped drive up its borrowing needs by well over 20 billion euros.

Days after it introduced a lockdown in mid-March, the government announced an economic aid package of up to 38 billion euros ($43.13 billion), roughly a tenth of last year’s economic output, for items like loans, loan guarantees and grants to companies as well as a so-called Kurzarbeit layoff-prevention scheme.

On Friday the Austrian Federal Financing Agency (OBFA), which issues government bonds and other debt instruments, updated its funding outlook for 2020 to say it now expects a total debt issuance of roughly 60 billion euros, almost double the 31 billion-34 billion it originally announced in December.

The short series of slides posted on its website showed that the amount of government bonds was expected to be at least 35 billion euros, up from 18 billion-21 billion originally.

As of Thursday, more than 40% of its funding programme for this year had been completed, 23.8 billion euros of which was in the form of bonds, OBFA’s presentation showed. It also plans 3-4 syndicated bond issues this year, compared with 1-2 previously.

How that tallies with the conservative-led government’s budget plans is not entirely clear, since the government has passed only a stopgap budget, declining to provide parliament with fresh figures factoring in all its coronavirus-related measures, because it says any such figures will not hold.

The government also has yet to provide details of a stimulus package that it says will include tax cuts for middle and low incomes and green investments in areas like transport and infrastructure. ($1 = 0.8810 euros) (Reporting by Francois Murphy Editing by Michelle Martin)

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