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Gov’t debt soars by P2.3t in 12 months to P10.773t

Outstanding debt of the national government jumped 27 percent to a record P10.773 trillion as of end-March from P8.477 trillion a year ago, as the government raised funds to cover the widening budget deficit and support anti-COVID-19 response.

The end-March government debt represented an increase of P2.296 trillion, the biggest rise in public debt on an annual basis.

Both domestic and foreign debt of the national government increased over the past 12 months, as the government issued local Treasuries and foreign currency-denominated bonds during the period. Domestic debt went up by 33.2 percent, or P1.931 trillion, to P7.744 trillion in March from P5.812 trillion a year ago.

External debt of the government also increased by 13.7 percent, or P364 billion, to P3 trillion in March from P2.664 trillion in the same month last year.

The Department of Finance said earlier the government secured $18.4 billion in foreign loans to deal with the crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven said in an interview with state-run PTV that of the total, $16.26 billion was for budget support and $2.14 billion for project financing.

Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that on a month-on-month basis, government debt climbed by P368 billion, or 3.5 percent, from P10.405 trillion in end-February following the net issuance of government securities.

The Treasury said of the total debt stock, 28 percent was sourced from other countries while 72 percent represented domestic borrowings.

Domestic debt amounted to P7.744 trillion, up by P381.54 billion or 5.2 percent from the end-February 2021 level. This followed the net issuance of government securities, including P411.79 billion in retail Treasury bonds.

Meanwhile, the Monetary Board, the policy-making body of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, said it approved a total of $2.84 billion of public sector foreign borrowings in the first quarter of 2021, up by 19.36 percent from $2.38 billion in the same period last year.

The BSP said in a statement these borrowings consisted of six project loans amounting to $1.44 billion; one program loan amounting to $600 million; and two bond issuances amounting to $798 million.

“These foreign borrowings will fund the national government’s COVID-19 pandemic response programs, mainly for vaccine procurement and distribution ($900 million); refinancing of existing obligations and general financing requirements ($798 million); disaster resilience ($600 million); social protection ($300 million); public transport improvement ($138 million); and maritime safety ($105 million),” the board said.

Under Section 20, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, prior approval of the BSP, through the Monetary Board, is required for all foreign loans to be contracted or guaranteed by the Republic of the Philippines.

Topics: national government debt , budget deficit , domestic and foreign debt , COVID-19 , Department of Finance
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