Bureau of Treasury
THE GOVERNMENT’S borrowings declined in March. — BW FILE PHOTO

THE NATIONAL government’s borrowings declined 79% to P66 billion in March from the P308.218 billion recorded a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr).

The sharp decline was mainly due to the timing of the retail Treasury bond (RTB) issuance launched in February as 2019’s RTBs were issued in March, the data showed.

The BTr said some 96% or P63.104 billion of total borrowings in March were from domestic sources, while the remaining four percent or P2.873 billion were from external creditors.

Domestic borrowings were 79% lower than the P297.656 billion recorded in March 2019. Of the March 2020 total, P40 billion were raised via fixed-rate Treasury bonds (T-bonds) while P23.104 billion were borrowed in Treasury bills (T-bills).

The Treasury did not make any debt redemptions of its local borrowings that month.

Meanwhile, net external debt in March was also 73% smaller than the P10.562 billion seen a year ago. Of that month’s total, P6.589 billion of the P9.047-billion total gross borrowings were program loans while P2.458 billion were project loans.

The BTr settled P6.174 billion for its foreign borrowings that month, bringing net external debt to P2.873 billion.

For the first quarter, the government’s total borrowings reached P500.612 billion, with around 90% or P449.296 billion raised via domestic sources and 10% or P51.316 billion from external creditors.

National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said the revised borrowing program for the year, initially programmed at P1.4 trillion in December before the pandemic hit is, currently being updated.

The government operates on a budget deficit as it spends more than the revenues it can generate to fund its infrastructure programs and spur economic growth.

For this year, state revenues are expected to plunge on weak business activity, while the spending plan has been increased slightly to P4.175 trillion as the government rolls out programs to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

With this, the economic team is projecting the budget deficit to hit 8.1% of gross domestic product this year which might balloon to nine percent if the recovery program, estimated to cost around P170 billion, is rolled out. — Beatrice M. Laforga