By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson | BusinessWorld
March 27, 2023
THE NATIONAL Government’s (NG) gross borrowings declined by 16.5% as of end-January, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said.
Based on preliminary data from the BTr, total gross borrowings stood at P366.86 billion in January, lower than the P439.13 billion seen in the same period last year.
During the month, external debt accounted for a little over half or 51.13% of total gross borrowings.
Gross foreign borrowings doubled to P187.563 billion in January from P93.579 billion a year earlier.
Of the total gross foreign borrowings, dollar-denominated global bonds amounted to P163.607 billion. The rest of the amount was from P5.736 billion in new project loans and P18.22 billion in program loans.
In January, the Philippine government raised $3 billion from its first US dollar bond issuance for the year, and the second under the Marcos administration.
Meanwhile, gross domestic debt fell by 48.1% to P179.3 billion from P345.551 billion in the previous year.
The BTr raised P17.625 billion from Treasury bills and P161.675 billion from fixed-rate Treasury bonds.
The government borrows from domestic and foreign sources to fund a budget deficit capped at P1.47 trillion or 6.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) this year.
In January, the NG’s budget balance swung to a surplus of P45.75 billion.
Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno on Friday said that the government is planning a retail dollar bond offering by next month.
“We plan to launch it maybe next month. We’re thinking along $2-3 billion. This will be treated as domestic debt. We are marketing this to our overseas Filipino workers and even residents in the country. You don’t even need to have a dollar account,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I’m confident it will get a good reception. It’s tax-free and it’s in dollars, so you don’t fear it will depreciate,” he added.
Proceeds from the bond offering will be used to finance the budget, Mr. Diokno said.
The Philippines’ last retail dollar bond sale was in 2021, when it raised $1.6 billion.
This year, the government plans to borrow P2.207 trillion. Of this, P1.654 trillion will be sourced domestically and the remaining P553.5 billion will be borrowed from external sources.