Central government’s debt in the last nine years has risen 174 percent, while there has been a 100 percent increase in external debt during the same period between 2013-14 and 2022-23. External debt is a component of the Central government's overall debt. According to the Finance Ministry, the Central government's debt was Rs 58.6 lakh crore (52.2 percent of GDP) as on March 31, 2014, which went up by 174 percent to Rs 155.6 lakh crore (57.1 percent of GDP) as on March 31, 2023.
Similarly, the government's external debt was Rs 3,74,484 crore in 2013-14, which shot up by 100 percent to Rs 7,48,895 crore in 2022-23. The government’s external debt is financed mainly by multilateral and bilateral agencies. Meanwhile, between 2019-20 and 2020-21, there was a sharp rise of 16 percent in the Central government's debt, which official sources said was mainly due to the Coronavirus pandemic that hugely disrupted projections of the Centre’s public finances.
At the end of 2019-20, the Central government's debt was Rs 105.1 lakh crore, which increased by 16 percent to Rs 121.9 lakh crore at the end of 2020-21. Despite the rise in the Central government's debt over the last nine years, official sources said that the risk profile of the Centre's debt stands out as safe and prudent in terms of accepted parameters of an indicator-based approach for debt sustainability. Government debt is held predominantly in domestic currency.