THE PHILIPPINES is looking to offer dollar-denominated retail Treasury bonds (RTBs) in the second quarter, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said.

“There’s a lot of interest from London and Frankfurt. Even in Japan. What’s good about dollar-denominated is that even if the peso depreciates, you still win because of high interest and it’s tax free too,” he told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of the 2023 Annual Reception for the Banking Community in Manila.

Mr. Diokno said there is no set volume for the proposed retail dollar bond offering.

In December, the Finance chief said the government was targeting to offer retail dollar bonds within the first quarter. At that time, the bonds were expected to have a tenor of at least five years and raise around $3 billion, depending on demand.

Mr. Diokno said the offering was pushed back after the government held an RTB sale this month. The government raised P162.180 billion or almost $3 billion from the second RTB issue under the Marcos administration.

The Philippines’ last retail dollar bond sale was in 2021, where it raised $1.6 billion.

The government plans to borrow P2.207 trillion this year, where 75% is expected to be sourced domestically.

Meanwhile, Mr. Diokno said the government will also extend its Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) program, which will provide P1,000 each for around 9.3 million beneficiaries.

“There are some 9.3 million beneficiaries which will have P1,000 each, (that) translates to P9.3 billion (for) the poorest of the poor beneficiaries. This is different from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Some beneficiaries under 4Ps are under this program,” he added.

Mr. Diokno said they are considering a two-month subsidy for these beneficiaries. Malacañang will make the announcement, he added.

Mr. Diokno said there is a possibility the cash transfer program may be extended again when needed.

“Others may still be in need of the cash transfers. I cannot say if this is the last,” he said.

The government released a total of P18.3 billion in subsidies to about 9.2 million household beneficiaries under the TCT program, according to the Department of Finance (DoF).

The program was launched in June last year and granted cash payments for poor households amounting to P500 per month for six months.

The TCT program was aimed at mitigating the impact of rising commodity prices on the most vulnerable households. The program expired on Dec. 31, 2022. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson