UK public borrowing surges to February record in nearly 30 years: ONS

2021-03-19 23:48:16Xinhua Editor : Wang Fan ECNS App Download

Britain's public borrowing surged to 19.1 billion pounds (about 26.6 billion U.S. dollars) in February, marking the highest February borrowing since monthly records began in 1993, the British Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Friday.

"The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a substantial impact on the economy and subsequently on public sector borrowing and debt," said the ONS.

Meanwhile, the latest figures published by the British Office for Budget Responsibility indicated that the 278.8 billion pounds (about 388.2 billion dollars) borrowed by the public sector in the financial year-to-February could reach 354.6 billion pounds (about 493.7 billion dollars) by the end of March.

Fraser Munro, public sector finance statistician at the ONS, tweeted that "annual borrowing has generally been falling since the financial crisis, however in the last 11 months, the public sector borrowed 278.8 billion pounds, around five times more than in the same period a year ago."

The public sector net debt (excluding public sector banks) at the end of February was equivalent to 97.5 percent of Britain's gross domestic product (GDP), reaching the level last seen in the early 1960s, said the ONS.

"The recent substantial increase in UK borrowing has led to sharp increase in public sector net debt," Munro added.

"Governments around the world are borrowing eye watering amounts to keep their respective economies afloat as the lockdowns have stifled growth and the UK is no different," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets.

"Earlier this month, Rishi Sunak, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, revealed various schemes to provide much needed assistance to the economy, so the national debt is on track to keep on increasing in the months ahead," Madden added.

The latest ONS data came as the British government announced that more than 25.7 million people in Britain have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.


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