Policy Watch

Debt vs GDP / Bonds vs bills

All Data - Burundi

Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
GDP (billions US$) 2.29 2.68 2.83 - - -
Total Outstanding Amount (Billion US$) 0.05 0.14 - - - -
Bonds 0.02 0.03 - - - -
Bills 0.03 0.10 - - - -
Outstanding Amount/GDP (%) 2.12% 5.17% 0.00% - - -

Country Summary

The socio-political strains from which Burundi has suffered since April 2015 have created major difficulties for economic activity, which has slowed markedly, interrupting the growth dynamic of the start of this century. Latest estimates suggest that growth of real gross domestic product (GDP) was negative, at around -4.1% in 2015 as against 4.7% in 2014 and 4.5% in 2013. This contraction was chiefly the consequence of a drop in activity in the secondary sector, in particular in industry and construction. Inflation remained steady at an average 5.5% in 2015, compared with 4.4% in 2014, thanks to the relative stability of the exchange rate, good harvests and the continuing drop in international oil prices. In respect of the budget, Burundi continues to suffer from a weak mobilisation of internal resources (11.7% of GDP in 2015 compared with 12.9% in 2014 and 13.1% in 2013) and from a substantial fall in foreign aid (-33% in 2015), according to the Finance Ministry. The budget deficit rose from 1.2% of GDP in 2014 to 5.7% in 2015. The deterioration in the public finances was strongly reflected in the accounts of the central bank (BRB), in particular with a steep fall in the official reserves (less than two months of import cover in 2015, compared with four months in 2014), mainly because of broad government recourse to BRB advances to finance the deficit. This financing, which amounts to an injection of liquidity into the economy, resulted in a greater demand for foreign exchange. The current account deficit, transfers included, is estimated at 4.5% of GDP in 2015 compared with 9.5% of GDP in 2014.

The implementation of the second-generation strategic framework for growth and poverty reduction, adopted in February 2012, brought significant progress in human development. The present political context, however, could call into question much of what has been achieved. The prolonged absence of support from technical and financial partners has negative consequences for the country and risks endangering the progress that has been made, particularly in social dimensions. Renewed engagement by these participants is largely dependent on a political solution to political tensions, which would make it possible to avoid an even more serious deterioration in the socio-economic situation. The whole international community is worried by the persistent tensions in the country, which also carry risks for the entire sub-region. Several Western countries have already announced the suspension of support to Burundi. Furthermore, the problems observed in 2015 surrounding the implementation of reforms supported by the extended credit facility (ECF) could also have a negative impact on the budget in the short and medium term.

Source : African Economic Outlook 2016

Monetary policy & Public debt

The main objective of Banque de la République du Burundi 's monetary policy is to attain price stability. The Bank uses the monetary base as its operational target and a set of three mechanisms to reach its monetary policy goals: auctions, repurchase operations and reserves requirements.

For 2011-2013, the public deficit averaged 19.4% of GDP; it was financed at 96.1% by internal resources. The public deficit is is estimated to drop to 16% in 2015-17.

The Ministry of Finance has elaborated a Strategy of Public Finance Management (SPFM) which started in February 2013. The strategy which is composed of 12 programs is currently (in 2014) at its 3rd program; Q3 2014 coincides with the finalization of the law on Public Debt Strategy. The law works towards strengthening the legal and regulatory framework on public indebtedness; the law was adopted on October 2014 .

At the end of September 2014, Burundi public debt was constituted evenly of external debt (50%) and of domestic debt (50%). Internal debt was composed at 62% of advances and at 38% of public securities (14% long-term securities and 24% short-term securities).

Market Structure

Market participants


The Banque de la République du Burundi (BRB) is the authorized issuing agent of the government.

Investor base

Commercial banks, pension funds and insurance firms form the investor base. In 2011, commercial banks were the major investors, with 66% of the securities, followed by the non-banking sector with 34% of the securities. The BRB, used to participate in the market, but ceased in 2009.

There is little or no foreign investor participation due to perceived risk and low liquidity of the instruments.

Other intermediaries

There are no Primary Dealers in Burundi. Most transactions are done through commercial banks.

Instruments issued

For the quarter ending September 2014, the government auctionned BF 70 billion of treasury securities, of which BF 67 billion found bidders.

Treasury Bills

The BRB offers T-bills with maturities of 13-, 26- and 52-weeks. Each security bears a value of BF 10,000. 

Treasury Bonds

The BRB issues Treasury bonds of varying maturities (less than 2-, 2-, 3- and 5 years). 

Average time to maturity and yield to maturity

In recent years, the government tried to push forward the sale of its longer-tenor bills (26-week and 52-week).  For the 3rd quarter of 2014, the average rate on the 13-week dropped from 8% to 6.5%; the 26-and the 52-week bills rates dropped from 9% and 11% to 8% and 9% respectively; the decrease in the average rates of T-bills is to be attributed to greater competition between agents, improving liquidity of the market.

Primary and secondary markets 

Primary Market

Treasury bill auctions are held every Wednesday (except in a few cases). As of 2013, a (tentative) calendar has been made available to the public though the document only provides the aggregate amounts to be issued in a given month. The issuance calendar for 2014 is available on the Central Bank website.

Treasury bonds are issued on a needs basis.

Secondary Market

OTC vs. Exchange listed

Even if the BRB has made a provision in its monetary policy to allow for the existence of a secondary market, the post-auction trading of the Treasury securities is not active. Once issued, Treasury securities are subject to transactions between banks and traders.

Clearing, settlement and custody

The BRB acts as the clearing and settlement house. There is no trading platform or automated settlement system. Commercial banks are required to hold accounts with BRB for purposes of trading in fixed income securities.

Investor Protection


Guide to Buying Bonds

Procedures for market participation

For Treasury bonds, investors can either bid directly to the Central Bank, the BRB (if they have an account at the institution) or through their commercial banks; for T-bonds, investors have the alternative of opting for debt conversion. 

The bidding process is open to all investors provided they meet the minimum amount required to bid. Bids may be made at fixed or variable rates. For variable rate tenders, bids are ranked in ascending order of rates or decreasing prices. In the event of oversubscription, the Auction committee pro-rates the bids.

When bids are made at fixed rate, each bidder is allocated the entire amount he/she tendered for (as long as the sum of bids does not exceed the amount of the issue; if it does, bids are prorated).

A maximum of 5 bids is allowed per auction.


Interest income derived from holding a government security is subject to a 15% withholding tax.

Settlement cycle

Treasury securities are settled on a T+6 basis.

Market restrictions

Openness to international investors

Foreign investors can participate in the government securities market.

In 2010, the government created “l’Agence Burundaise pour la Promotion de l'Investissement” as a way to promote investment (foreign and local) in the country.

Capital controls

Most capital transactions, including credit operations, direct investment, and personal capital movements, are subject to restrictions or authorization requirements.

The average delay for remitting investment returns, once all taxes have been paid, is about three months. 

Foreign Exchange restrictions and profit repatriation

Foreign exchange controls have recently been liberalized. In principle, there are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with foreign investment; in practice, limitations depend on the availability of hard currency, since the Central Bank is not accustomed to accommodating large international transactions. It may be worthwhile to note that the Burundi Franc is pegged to the value of a composite of currencies.

Residents and nonresidents may hold foreign exchange accounts and withdraw funds up to a set limit upon presentation of requisite documentation. Central bank approval is required for accounts held abroad.

Credit rating

As of March 2010, Burundi has not been assigned a rating by any of the credit rating agencies.

List of Primary Dealers

There are no primary dealers in Burundi.

Documents & Resources

Documents - Ministry of Finance

Documents - Debt Management Office

Documents - Central Bank

Documents - Other sources