MANILA – The Philippines breaching the PHP11 trillion debt level in May is still midrange among lower-middle income countries, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed the Bureau of Treasury’s (BTr) announcement that total outstanding debt jumped to an all-time high of PHP11.071 trillion as the government borrowed more from the domestic market to fund its pandemic response.
“Yung ating naiulat pong external debt ngayon, ‘yan po ay nasa midrange kung ikukumpara natin sa mga ekonomiya na kasing lakas natin gaya ng iba’t-ibang ekonomiya po ng Latin America, lower-middle income countries (The reported external debt is midrange if you compare it to economies as strong as the Philippines, such as economies in Latin America, lower-middle income countries),” he said in a press briefing in Pampanga.
He also assured that the Philippines has the capacity to pay its debts even as it ramped up its borrowings to finance measures to address the prevailing coronavirus health crisis.
“So, malaki pong tignan ‘yan, but we are in the midrange at wala naman pong problema ‘yan pagdating dun sa ating kakayahan na magbayad as they fall due (So it looks huge, but we are in the midrange and it won’t be a problem in terms of our ability to pay them off as they fall due),” he added.
According to the BTr, the government’s debt level rose 24 percent to PHP11.071 in May from PHP8.89 trillion in the same month last year.
Of the total debt stock, 28.5 percent was sourced externally, while 71.5 percent are domestic borrowings.
The government plans to borrow a total of PHP3.02 trillion this year to speed up the recovery of the economy.
Meanwhile, Roque said the Palace has yet to confirm reports that PHP6.49 billion under the Republic Act 11519 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) were unused as the measure expired last week.
He said the amount was supposedly released to line agencies, but the Palace has to wait until after July 15 for the spending report.
“Lahat po ng pondo ng Bayanihan 2, according to [Budget] Secretary Wendel Avisado, nailabas po sa mga line agencies. So as of now, I am not able to confirm kung mayroon ngang hindi nagastos dahil (According to Secretary Wendel Avisado, all funds of Bayanihan 2 have been released to line agencies. As of now, I am not able to confirm if there are unused funds because) the line agencies are given until July 15 to report back to DBM,” he said.
He also appealed to Vice President Leni Robredo to withhold making conclusions until the report is released.
Robredo earlier said that it was “disappointing” to see such a large amount of money not being used when many could have benefited from it.
“We will be able to confirm kung magkano po yung magre-revert sa (how much will be reverted to the) National Treasury but only on July 15. And I ask the Vice President, who is an economist, please let’s wait for data before we make conclusions,” Roque added. (PNA)