Gross borrowings of gov’t hit P3.22T

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    The government’s gross borrowings as of end-October reached P3.22 trillion, data posted by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) on its website showed, as various sources were tapped over the past months to support the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.

    The BTr data showed gross financing in the first 10 months of the year significantly increased to P3.22 trillion from the P967.56 billion recorded a year ago.

    The government has set a record P3 trillion borrowing program for the year. However, Rosalia de Leon, national treasurer, said the program was not exceeded as it included items which were already settled, or were just swapped.

    “That figure included BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) advances which we paid and proceeds from switch program,” de Leon said in a text message yesterday.

    “So we have not exceeded program,” she added.

    At the onset of the lockdown measures imposed last March to combat the COVID-19, the BSP lent P300 billion to the national government under a repurchase agreement “with a maximum repayment period of six months.”

    The BTr has already fully settled the amount on September 29.

    The BSP, last October 1, also approved the request of the national government for “fresh provisional advances” worth P540 billion.

    The national government is expected to settle the P540 billion “on or before December 29, 2020 at zero interest.”

    Considered as the lender of last resort, the BSP may make direct provisional advances with or without interest to the national government to finance expenditures authorized in its annual appropriation, pursuant to Section 89 of Republic Act No. 7653 or the New Central Bank Act.

    Meanwhile, the BTr issued retail treasury bonds (RTBs) twice this year which included a bond exchange program, with proceeds from the switch amounting to P60.8 billion in the February issuance, and P27.8 billion in the RTBs offered in August.

    Under a switch offer, the BTr allows certain bond holders to submit offers to exchange their eligible bond holdings for the new RTBs.

    The BTr data showed that gross external borrowings for the period jumped by 95.55 percent to P574.44 billion from P293.75 billion a year ago.

    Gross domestic borrowings, on the other hand, totaled to P2.65 trillion in the first 10 months of the year, soaring by 293.14 percent from the P673.81 billion posted in the same period last year.