Government debt rises in March

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The national government’s outstanding debt reached P8.177 trillion as of end-March due to higher issuances of domestic securities, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said.

In a report released Thursday evening, the BTr reported the national government’s debt stock increased by P11.82 billion or 0.1% to P8.177 trillion as of end-March from P8.165 trillion as of end-February. The March figure was also 4.8% higher than P7.8 trillion in March 2019.

Of which, 67% or P5.512 trillion were sourced domestically, while 33% or P2.664 trillion were from external creditors.

The domestic debt stock inched up 1.2% from P5.45 trillion as of end-February and 6.1% higher compared to P5.197 trillion seen in March 2019.

BTr attributed the increase to net issuances of government securities worth P63.07 billion.


External debt as of end-March slipped 1.89% to to P2.664 trillion from P2.716 trillion a month prior, but was 2.3% higher from P2.605 trillion a year ago.

“For March, the decline in external debt was due to the P44.18 billion net repayment of foreign loans and the P7.02 billion collective effect of exchange rate adjustments on both dollar- and third-currency denominated debt,” the national treasury said.

The government is looking at a borrowing mix of between 70:30 and 72:28 Ñ still in favor of domestic lenders to minimize foreign exchange risks and volatility Ñ from its initial target of 75:25 ratio.

Meanwhile, the national government’s guaranteed obligations declined 0.5% month-on-month to P481.82 billion as of end-March, largely due to the P1.92 billion worth net redemption of local and foreign guarantees made.

Broken down, 53% or P254.832 billion were domestic guarantees, while 47% or P226.989 billion were from external sources.


Meanwhile, the 2019 debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was adjusted downwards to 39.6% using 2018 as the base year compared to the 41.5% reported previously using 2000 prices.

With 2018 as the new base year, last year’s debt stock relative to the economy hit a record-low, slightly declining from the previous years’ levels of 39.9% in 2018, 40.2% in 2017 and 2016, and 42.7% in 2015.

The Duterte administration’s economic team has set a 46.7% debt-to-GDP target this year, which can be translated to 44.95% if rebased using 2018 prices, according to National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon.

Using rebased year, the 2019 GDP was revised to six percent from 5.9% previously.

However, the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has yet to release its revised macroeconomic assumptions using the rebased GDP. — Beatrice M. Laforga