National debt swells to new high of ₱10.33T in January

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — The country’s outstanding loans ballooned to a fresh high of ₱10.327 trillion as of end-January, data from the Treasury Bureau showed.

The figure is up 33 percent from the same period a year ago, when total government debt stood at ₱7.76 trillion, the agency said Tuesday. It also breached the previous high of ₱10.13 trillion logged in end-November last year.

The rise in outstanding dues comes after a slight fall in December, when the debt stock eased to ₱9.795 trillion after the government settled its ₱540 billion loan with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 

The Treasury said the increase was “predominantly” due to the state borrowing ₱540 billion anew from the central bank as it boosts its war chest against COVID-19. 

Domestic borrowings comprised 71% of the country’s outstanding debt or ₱7.325 trillion in January, up 9.4% from the month prior.

Meanwhile, loans with foreign sources reached ₱3.001 trillion during the month, making up 29% of the Philippines’ debt stock. The Treasury said this is a 3.2% drop from December’s figure, citing the net repayment of external loans totaling ₱93.49 billion and the ₱8.47 billion “effect of third currency depreciation against the dollar.”

“These more than offset the ₱3.55 billion effect of local currency depreciation on dollar denominated loans for the period,” added the bureau.

The government has turned to both foreign and local entities to acquire the necessary funding for its pandemic response and relief measures, including the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

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The state’s payment guarantees, meanwhile, went down to ₱456.39 billion in January. This is a ₱1.96 billion decrease from the previous month. Net redemption of both local and foreign guaranteed payments costing ₱320 million and ₱180 million, respectively, pulled the overall amount down, said the Treasury.