GOVERNMENT borrowing rose 673.96% in April as it raised funds in the Philippines and overseas to help contain the coronavirus outbreak, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) reported.

The BTr said net borrowing by the government hit P257.48 billion, up from P33.268 billion a year earlier. March borrowing amounted to P2.87 billion.

Domestic borrowing accounted for 66.73% of the total at P171.81 billion while P85.672 billion came from foreign sources.

Gross domestic borrowing in April totaled P172.1 billion, against P34.493 billion raised by the BTr a year earlier. The increase came mostly in the form of Treasury bills (T-bills) worth P88.03 billion, significantly higher than the year earlier P14.49 billion.

Government bond issues that month also totaled P84.07 billion, against P20 billion a year earlier.

The Treasury made P291 million in amortization payments that month, bringing net domestic borrowing to P171.81 billion.

Meanwhile, principal repayments, including those serviced by the bond sinking fund, increased to P121.49 billion from P25.96 billion a year earlier.

Borrowing from external creditors amounted to P85.67 billion, against P3.43 billion a year earlier.

Project loans from foreign lenders declined 83% to P579 million from P3.43 billion a year earlier, while program loans hit P90.068 billion. The government did not avail of any program loans in April 2019.

National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon on Saturday said most of the program loans in April represented borrowing from multilateral lenders to help the government contain the coronavirus. They included P50.781 billion (around $1 billion) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and P25.231 billion ($500 million) from the World Bank.

Ms. De Leon added that P10.107 billion was from the World Bank’s Philippine Social Welfare Development and Reform project while P3.949 billion was from the ADB’s emergency assistance for the reconstruction and development of Marawi City.

In the four months to April, the government borrowed P758.1 billion, with a domesic-foreign breakdown of 81.91% to 18.01%. — Beatrice M. Laforga