JERUSALEM (Feb. 24)
Israel’s external debt stood at $406,000,000 at the end of December, 1953, Pinchas Saphir, director of the Israel Treasury, told a press conference today. This included all government commitments and government-underwritten loans by national institutions, but did not include some $35,000,000 in commercial credit channels.
The sum included $141, 000, 000 in Independence Bonds, Mr. Saphir said. He said that the foreign debt had been reduced by $6,000, 000 at the end of December and that it was expected that it would be reduced by a further $20, 000, 000 by June of this year, after the receipt of foreign currency in payment for citrus exports.
An analysis of the debt shows that the proportion of long-term debts within the total is increasing while the proportion of the debt in short-term and middle-term obligations is dropping. In 1954, Israel is obligated to pay some $111,000,000 in debts, of which $73, 000, 000 is in short-term obligations and the remainder represents payments on capital and interest on long-term obligations.
Mr. Saphir said that short-term obligations still weigh heavily on Israel, despite American grants-in-aid and technical assistance. He added that if the “consolidation” loan being raised by American Jewish communities is as successful as early reports indicate, the foreign exchange situation will be eased and will save Israel an estimated $8,000, 000 annually in interest rates and in better terms for purchases abroad.