By Jenina P. Ibañez, Senior Reporter

THE NATIONAL Government’s (NG) outstanding debt stood at P11.93 trillion as of end-November, preliminary data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed.

The end-November debt level was 17.7% higher year on year, but it slipped by 0.3% from P11.97 trillion in October.

BTr in a statement on Wednesday said the debt level slipped month on month due to the net redemption of domestic securities and favorable foreign exchange rate.

Government debt grew by 21.8% since the start of the year, or the equivalent of P2.14 trillion over 11 months.

The end-November debt figure also exceeds the P11.73-trillion government debt projection for the year.

Domestic borrowings accounted for 70.7% of the total, while the rest was sourced from foreign creditors.

Domestic debt at the end of November dipped by 0.3% to P8.44 trillion from the previous month, but grew by 17.4% year on year.

Outstanding government securities slipped by 0.3% to P7.9 trillion from the end-October level, but rose by 18.8% from the same period in 2020.

The government still owes the P540 billion it borrowed from the central bank to continue funding the country’s pandemic response.

Meanwhile, external debt declined by 0.4% to P3.49 trillion month on month, but jumped by 18.6% from end-November last year.

“The lower external debt for the month was attributed to (Philippine peso) appreciation against the (US dollar) and other foreign currencies adjustments amounting to P11.64 billion and P4.05 billion respectively,” the Treasury said.

“This more than offset the net availment of external obligations amounting to P2.90 billion.”

Broken down, foreign debt included P1.53 trillion in loans, dipping by 0.1% since the end of October.

Government securities also slipped by 0.6% to P1.96 trillion in November.

This included P1.54 trillion in dollar notes, P231 billion in euro bonds, P86 billion in yen paper, P19.79 billion in yuan notes and P85.6 billion in peso global bonds.

Total outstanding guaranteed debt declined by 2% to P417.85 billion as of end-November from a month earlier, and fell 5.6% from the same period last year.

“The lower level of guaranteed debt was due to the net redemption of both domestic and external guarantees amounting to P4.94 billion and P3.49 billion, respectively,” BTr said.

“Local currency appreciation also trimmed P0.77 billion to offset the P0.58 billion effect of net appreciation on third-currency denominated guarantees against the US dollar.”

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the slight month-on-month decline in outstanding debt could be attributed to the depreciation of the peso in November.

This resulted in the lower peso equivalent of the country’s external debts denominated in foreign currencies, he said in a Viber message.

“Further re-opening of the economy would help increase business activities that help increase tax revenue collection and also help reduce government spending on various (coronavirus) programs, thereby narrowing the budget deficit and, in turn, reduced the need for more borrowings.”

Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. chief economist, said he was expecting slightly higher National Government debt.

“But with spending targets yet to be met, it seems the National Government is sticking to what they have now.”

In a Viber message, he noted the country’s change-in-cash, which was at P643 billion as of end-November.

“I don’t expect any huge rise by end-2021 as well,” he said.