THE National Government’s debt at the end of March was P12.68 trillion, equivalent to 63.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), the Bureau of the Treasury said on Thursday.

The debt level in GDP terms is 3.1 percentage points than the year-earlier level, and exceeds the 60% threshold considered manageable by multilateral lenders for developing economies.

The 63.5% level compares with 60.5% at the end of 2021 and the 65.7% posted at the end of 2005.

Some 44.4% of the debt-to-GDP ratio was accounted for by domestic debt, and 19.1% foreign debt.

Of the domestic debt, Treasury bonds accounted for P7.91 trillion, or over 89%. Some P656.60 billion was raised via Treasury bills.

The debt stock is equivalent to 61% of gross national income. The debt service bill was equivalent to 6.4% of GDP.

In the first quarter, the government made debt payments of P313.65 billion, down 39.85% from a year earlier. In March, the government paid P67.39 billion, down nearly 75%. 

Principal payments for the first quarter amounted to P164.32 billion, or 52% of the total, while interest payments came in at P149.33 billion.

Guaranteed debt totaled P411.04 billion at the end of March, accounting for 2.1% of GDP. It declined 5.5% from a year earlier.

Separately, the Bureau of Local Government and Finance reported that it issued 13 certificates of net debt service ceiling and borrowing capacity in April, bringing the running total for 2022 to 86 certificates.

These certificates are sought by local government units (LGUs) to demonstrate their debt-paying capacity.

The 11 municipalities and two cities that were issued certificates have a combined borrowing capacity of P4.47 billion.

LGUs borrow to finance the construction of roads, public markets, and the procurement of heavy equipment, including trucks, buses, and excavators.

Funds were also applied to the construction of a municipal hall, transport terminals, a water system, and a sanitary landfill.

An infrastructure spending ban was imposed on March 25, the start of the campaign period. — Tobias Jared Tomas