Beijing would issue 1.6 trillion yuan (HK$1.81 trillion) in treasury bonds next year to help finance the 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus package announced last month, sources said. The finance ministry set the size of the treasury bond issue at a meeting with leading domestic bond trading companies on Friday, traders said. Calls to the ministry went unanswered yesterday. The planned debt size is almost double the 855.8 billion yuan in treasury bonds already issued this year and is also much higher than the market's widely expected figure of about 1.3 trillion yuan. 'Such a national debt scale makes sense, considering that the first priority of the central government now is to maintain a relatively high economic growth, which apparently demands a big fiscal injection,' China International Capital Corp economist Xing Zhiqiang said. Of the 1.6 trillion yuan in treasury bonds, up to 800 billion yuan would go to repay debts maturing next year and the remainder would be split between the central and local governments to finance projects in the 4 trillion yuan investment spree, analysts said. Beijing has promised to pour 1.18 trillion yuan into the ambitious stimulus package. Local governments, banks and private investors are expected to contribute the rest. To boost its payment capacity, the central government has scaled up its budgeted fiscal deficit from this year's 180 billion yuan to 500 billion yuan next year. The deficit will be funded by the newly issued debt, with local governments also slicing off 300 billion to 400 billion yuan from it. But the finance ministry last month said the funds raised from the treasury bonds and earmarked for local governments would be considered a 'loan' instead of a straight fiscal transfer from the central government. As such, the debts would not be counted into the central government's deficit, leaving Beijing more room to issue debt if it wished, analysts said. With a planned fiscal deficit of 500 billion yuan for the central government next year, the ratio of the fiscal deficit to the gross domestic product would stand at 1.5 per cent to 1.8 per cent, far below the internationally recognised alarm level of 3 per cent, analysts said. At the central economic work conference earlier this month, Beijing vowed to maintain economic growth of 8 per cent next year, widely considered a tough target to meet, given the country's shrinking exports and industrial output over the past two months. The World Bank has forecast 7.5 per cent growth for China next year, while some investment banks are saying it will be below 7 per cent. Analysts said Beijing would possibly even ignore the internationally recognised 3 per cent secure deficit level if the economy worsened too much. Qu Hongbin, the chief China economist with HSBC in Hong Kong, said: 'The tough problems for the policymakers are economic growth and employment. They could ignore the 3 per cent alarm level when needed. After all, more fiscal income could return once the economy improves.'