PHL gov’t debt swells to P7.104 trillion by end-August

Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno Manila Bulletin

The national government’s outstanding debt hit another record-high at P7.104 trillion in the first eight months of the year on the back of high foreign borrowings amid the issuance of yen-denominated debt bonds.

Data from the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) released recently showed the total outstanding debt rose by 10.5 percent from P6.432 trillion in the same period in 2017.

Month-on-month, the total obligations widened by 0.86 percent from P7.04 trillion in end-July.

Foreign debt grew by 3.6 percent at P2.531 trillion while domestic debt declined by 0.6 percent to P4.573 trillion.

“The growth in external debt was due to net availment of foreign loans amounting to P72.3 billion, including the issuance of Samurai bonds. Currency fluctuations on both dollar and third-currency denominated debt added P14.48 billion and P1.1 billion, respectively,” the BTR said.

Last month, the government raised ¥154.2 billion or around P74.4 billion from Samurai bonds in three tenors.

Borrowing sourced locally, meanwhile, declined due to “net redemption of government securities amounting to P27.77 billion, slightly offset by the depreciation of the peso that increased the value of onshore dollar bonds by P160 million.”

The peso appreciated from P53.160$1 as of end-July to P53.475:$1 as of end-August, the Btr said.

Foreign debt accounted for 35.6 percent of the total outstanding liabilities in end-August, while domestic borrowings contributed 64.37 percent.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said that “the rule of thumb is that a country with a debt-to-GDP [gross domestic product] ratio below 60 percent is fiscally sound.”

Diokno said, “The Philippines is comfortably below that…” It is at 42 percent in 2017 and is expected to decline further to 39 percent in 2022. —Ted Cordero/LBG, GMA News