Israel's debt-to-GDP ratio jumps to 73.1 pct in 2020

JERUSALEM, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel's public debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 73.1 percent in 2020, compared to 60 percent in 2019, Israeli Ministry of Finance said on Thursday.

The annual figures published by the ministry's accountant general Yali Rothenberg showed that the government's debt rate increased to 71.6 percent of GDP in 2020, compared to 58.5 percent in 2019.

This is the first time after three consecutive years that this figure is higher than the upper limit of 60 percent, recommended by the Maastricht Treaty.

According to the ministry, the increase in debt-to-GDP ratio in 2020 was due to dealing with the coronavirus crisis, causing an increase of about 78.8 billion new shekels (24 billion U.S. dollars) in government expenditure compared to 2019.

This is in addition to a decrease of about 29.4 billion shekels in total government revenue compared to 2019.

"The increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio is lower than expected, due to the resilience of the Israeli economy," Rothenberg said.

"We expect that in the coming years the debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to rise, but there is great importance in returning it to a path of decline after the economy recovers from the crisis," he added.

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