New admin aims 'A' credit rating in 2 years

Published May 29, 2022, 4:00 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Marcos administration can attain the Philippines’ first “A” credit rating status within two years as long as it has a credible and doable fiscal consolidation program, the incoming chief economic manager said.

Incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in an interview that the next administration will continue the pursuit of an A-level credit rating that was derailed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our concern is our road to ‘A’. Right now, we’re investment grade, but it’s triple B+, I want ‘A’ so that the private sector debt would benefit,” Diokno said.

Asked when an “A” credit rating could be achieved, Diokno said “I think in two years time.”

“We just have to show a credible doable fiscal consolidation program. We already have a plan, we’ve talked about this with the House speaker to be and the President-elect,” Diokno said.

He added that the Philippines was never downgraded despite the global pandemic unlike the other countries.

S&P Global Ratings affirmed the Philippines’ BBB+ rating or two notches above minimum investment grade, while Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings maintained the country’s BBB rating or a notch above minimum investment grade.

However, Fitch lowered the Philippines’ credit outlook to negative from stable in July last year due to the impact of the pandemic.

Outgoing Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government’s prudent fiscal strategy has allowed the Philippines to maintain its high creditworthiness that enabled it to access funds for its P3.2 trillion pandemic response.

Dominguez said the Philippines was able to secure these generous rates and longer terms at a time when governments across the globe have been competing for scarce financing to keep their economies afloat amid the health and economic crisis.

Pre-pandemic, the current economic managers had bid for the achievement of an “A”-level credit rating before President Duterte’s term will end in June.

Upgrades of the country’s credit rating “is crucial to the quest for a more inclusive growth because it will lower borrowing costs for the government and private sector investors, and eventually lower interest rates for the loans of ordinary Filipinos,” Dominguez said.