The national government’s gross borrowings rose 5.3 percent year-on-year to P656.7 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as both domestic and foreign debts increased.
The latest Bureau of the Treasury data showed that gross domestic borrowings from January to March amounted to P510 billion, up from P490.6 billion in 2019.
First-quarter gross external borrowings also increased to P146.7 billion from P132.9 billion last year.
During the first three months of this year, the Treasury sold a net of P70.5 billion in T-bills, P310.8 billion in retail treasury bonds (RTBs), and P128.8 billion in fixed-rate treasury bonds.
In February, the Treasury issued a record amount of three-year RTBs at 4.375 percent, despite a shortened offer period amid robust demand from small investors.
It was the government’s 23rd overall and the Duterte administration’s sixth RTB issuance.
Between January and March, the government also secured P72.7 billion in program loans, P6.6 billion in project loans, and last February raised P67.3 billion from its euro bond sale—the Philippines’ first offshore commercial borrowing for 2020.
The euro-denominated global bonds were issued in tenors of three and nine years, with the shorter debt paper fetching a zero coupon.
It was the second straight year that the Philippines sold euro bonds, ending the country’s 13-year absence in the market.
As the government ramps up borrowings to fund response to the health and socioeconomic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) this month projected the debt stock to hit a record P9.589 trillion or 49.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by end-2020.
Under the 2020 national budget, the national government’s outstanding debt was supposed to reach P8.8 trillion this year or 44.4 percent of GDP, on the back of a record P1.4 trillion in gross borrowings programmed for the year.
But actual borrowings will exceed the original program, as the government will borrow an additional P436.9 billion from foreign lenders to augment funds for the Duterte administration’s four-pillar socioeconomic strategy against COVID-19.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon had said the Treasury was still finalizing the adjusted 2020 borrowings program and its mix.
So far, the Philippines already secured $1.7 billion in loans from the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), and $800 million from the Washington-based World Bank.
The Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was expected to approve this month a $750-million loan for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had said the Philippines was also in talks with China, France, Japan and South Korea for bilateral loans to support the fight against the pandemic.
Edited by TSB
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