The debt of the Philippines slightly increased in March to P8.18 trillion, which is twice the approved 2020 budget.
According to new data from the Bureau of Treasury released on Thursday (May 1), the increase is only 0.1, from P8.17 trillion in February but 5.8 percent higher than P7.8 trillion in 2019.
Two-thirds of the total is local debt, which increased 1.2 percent month-on-month and 6.1 percent year-on-year to P5.51 trillion in March.
According to the Treasury, the domestic debt rose after P63.07 billion in government securities were issued.
Reports said, “treasury’s T-bill and T-bond auctions were met with strong demand in early March, but met lukewarm response as bid rates rose amid economic uncertainties when the government imposed a lockdown against COVID-19.”
Foreign debt meanwhile declined by 1.9 percent to P2.66 trillion in March from P2.72 trillion in February.
The P44.18 billion in payments made and P7.02 billion in gains by a stronger peso caused the decline.
The peso strengthened to 50.78 against the US dollar in March from 50.897 per US dollar in February.
Every year, though, foreign debt grew by 2.3 percent from P2.61 trillion in March 2019.
Debt of the Philippines now P8.18 trillion
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) used 2018 as a gross domestic product base year from 2000 previously. Nominal GDP rose 4.9 percent in 2019, the Treasury said. The 2019 debt-to-GDP ratio was lowered to 39.6 percent from 41.5 percent under the base year 2000.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon on Friday said that the 2020 debt-to-GDP ratio using the base year 2018 will rise to 44.95 percent as the country continues to borrow to augment its COVID-19 response.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III meanwhile said that the Philippines’ higher debt-to-GDP ratio was still “low” compared with its neighboring countries.
The Duterte administration set a P1.49-trillion four-pillar socioeconomic strategy against the pandemic, and it planned to borrow an additional P310 billion from foreign lenders to augment funds.
De Leon said that as the country increasingly gets loans from multilateral lenders like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the actual share of foreign borrowing could be higher than 25 percent of the total, the level programmed for 2020.