Gov’t debt payments rise 14% in 2020

The national government’s debt payments increased last year due to higher amortization, data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed.

Debt servicing of the Duterte administration went up by 14 percent in January to December last year to P962.46 billion from P842.45 billion in the previous year.

Based on the Treasury report, the government’s total amortization rose by 21 percent from P481.57 billion in 2019 to P582.05 billion last year. Of that amount, P440.4 billion were paid to local creditors.

Domestic amortization also increased by 28 percent in 2020 from P344.47 billion, the treasury reported.

Meanwhile, external amortization rose at a much slower pace at 3.3 percent to P141.65 billion from P137.1 billion a year ago.

The national government also booked P380.41 billion in interest expenses in 2020, an increase of 5.4 percent compared with P360.87 billion in the previous year.

Total interest payments to domestic lenders jumped 11.5 percent last year to P279.05 billion from P250.3 billion in 2019.

But the government’s interest payments offshore amounted to P101.35 billion, down by 8.3 percent compared with P110.57 billion a year before.

Notably, debt payments of the government accelerated in December. Data from the Treasury revealed that the government spent P73.77 billion for debt service during the month, almost double compared with P37.18 billion in the same month a year ago.

The increase was mainly driven by amortization, which the treasury said had accelerated to P48.44 billion from P8.06 billion in the previous year.

Interest payments in December 2020, however, decreased to P25.33 billion from P29.12 billion in the same month in 2019.

Earlier, the treasury reported that the national government’s debt stock breached the P10-trillion mark in January after its total obligations accelerated by P2.5 trillion amid aggressive borrowings to finance the country’s war chest against the coronavirus pandemic.

The outstanding debt of the national government stood at P10.33 trillion as of January 2021, higher by 33 percent compared with P7.763 trillion in the same month last year,

Of the total debt obligations, 71 percent are domestic borrowings while the remaining 29 percent were sourced from external creditors.

At end-January, domestic debt rose 43 percent to P7.325 trillion from P5.123 trillion in the previous year, while offshore debt reached P3.001 trillion, up 14 percent compared with P2.639 trillion a year ago.