THE National Government’s (NG) gross borrowings slumped by nearly half to P203.151 billion in January, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said.

Data from the BTr showed that total gross borrowings declined by 44.6% in January from the P366.863 billion in the same month in 2023.

During the month, domestic borrowings accounted for more than two-thirds or 69.7% of the total.

Gross domestic debt stood at P141.505 billion in January, a 21.1% drop from the P179.3 billion seen a year ago.

This consisted of fixed-rate Treasury bonds amounting to P130 billion and Treasury bills worth P11.505 billion.

Meanwhile, gross external debt dropped by 67.1% to P61.646 billion in January from P187.563 billion a year ago.

Broken down, program loans stood at P56.298 billion and new project loans were recorded at P5.348 billion.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the year-on-year drop in gross borrowings was primarily due to the dollar-bond offering in January 2023.

In January last year, the Philippines raised $3 billion from its US dollar bond issuance. This was the second global bond offering under the Marcos administration.

“Global bond issuance by the National Government has yet to start but scheduled as early as the first half of 2024, thus resulting to the sharp year-on-year decline in gross borrowings,” Mr. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto earlier said that the Treasury is working on finalizing its first offshore issuance of the year. No details were available.

For the coming months, Mr. Ricafort said that the NG’s gross borrowings could rise. “Furthermore, the Retail Treasury Bond (RTB) issuance in the latter part of February 2024 would lead to some pick up in gross borrowings to start with, on top of other sources of borrowings,” he added.

In February, the government raised P584.86 billion from its offering of five-year RTBs, higher than the P400-billion target set by the BTr.

This year, the government’s borrowing program is set at P2.46 trillion, with P1.85 trillion to be raised from the domestic market and P606.85 billion from foreign sources.

In 2023, the NG’s gross borrowings rose by 1.38% to P2.193 trillion, but was slightly below the P2.207-trillion borrowing program for the year. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson