Gov’t borrowings rise amid COVID-19 response

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    The government’s borrowings in the first semester rose by 104.86 percent from its year ago level as foreign lenders and the domestic market were tapped to support funding for the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.

    According to data posted by the Bureau of the Treasury on its website, gross financing in the first six months of the year totaled to P1.72 trillion, a significant increase from the P840.84 billion recorded a year ago.

    Gross external borrowings for the period jumped by 83.37 percent to P413.46 billion, from P225.48 billion a year ago.

    Meanwhile, gross domestic borrowings six months into the year totaled to P1.31 trillion, soaring by 112.73 percent from the P615.36 billion posted in the same period last year.

    For June alone, gross financing amounted to P213.23 billion, 297 percent up from the year ago level of P53.71 billion.

    Gross foreign borrowings stood at P56.82 billion while P156.41 billion was recorded on the domestic side, posting increases of 295.52 percent and 297.54 percent, respectively.

    Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance secretary, previously said higher borrowings this year are crucial for the government to carry out a wide range of initiatives for the country to cope with the unexpected shocks unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic and before that, the eruption of the Taal Volcano.

    “While the government is borrowing more than usual this year in order to fund healthcare, social protection and other essential programs while our revenues are down, we have to be careful about spending too much above our means,” Dominguez earlier said.

    “None of us knows how long this pandemic will last. As we have borrowed a lot… fiscal space should be saved to afford us elbow room in case future circumstances require a new round of big healthcare spending, subsidies and/or stimulus programs,” he added.