Gov’t foreign borrowings for COVID-19 near $10-B

Published September 28, 2020, 2:37 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Duterte administration has so far borrowed close to $10 billion to fund the national government’s coronavirus response, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the national government’s financing support for COVID-19 from external sources had risen to $9.9 billion as of September 23 this year.

Dominguez disclosed that these foreign borrowings, equivalent to around P480.2 billion, were sourced from the Philippines’ development partners as well as the commercial debt markets.

For transparency, the finance chief said the DOF uploaded in its website the list of all loans and grants entered into by the Duterte administration for the COVID-19 response.

“The government has been ‘very transparent’ with the amount of loans and grants it has secured to support public expenditures in the face of the significant drop in revenues as a result of the pandemic-induced global economic slump,” the DOF quoted Dominguez as saying.

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Amid the rising government debt, Dominguez assured that the government will remain prudent in managing its financial resources, given that the COVID-19 pandemic would require “fiscal stamina” to ensure that the economy would be able to recover quickly.

Related story: Filipinos now owe P9.1-trillion and counting

The government also needs to be prudent in its borrowings to ensure that future generations, which will have to pay for them, would not be burdened with massive public debt as what had happened in the past, Dominguez said. 

Total borrowings for this year and next are projected to reach P6-trillion to support priority expenditures necessary for the country’s swift recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and aggressive public investments in infrastructure and social services. 

Borrowings are expected to settle at P2.3 trillion in 2022, which will still be predominantly sourced domestically, Dominguez said. 

Meanwhile, the government’s debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is projected to settle at 54 percent this year and go up to 58 percent in 2021, and 60 percent in 2022. 

But Dominguez said these debt ratio projections are still lower compared to the country’s all-time high level of 71.6 percent of GDP in 2004.

“So we have mentioned the amount of funds that we have borrowed for the first eight-months of this year. And we have also disclosed that we are borrowing around P3 trillion for each of the next 2 years, for 2021 and 2022,” Dominguez said. 

“These are the major fiscal risks that we have disclosed and these are the major fiscal risks that we are managing,” he added.