For the month alone, P54.24 billion was added to total outstanding debt due to the “net issuance of external debt and local currency depreciation against the US dollar,” the Treasury said in a statement.

Local borrowings comprised the bulk, or 68.0 percent, of the debt total. At P9.46 trillion, it was P55.32 billion lower compared to the end-March level due to the net redemption of securities amounting to P57.79 billion.

“This was slightly offset by the P2.47-billion effect on onshore foreign currency-denominated securities caused by peso depreciation against the US dollar,” the Treasury added.

Reckoned from the end of last year, P249.45 billion has been added to domestic debt.

External debt — 32 percent of total outstanding debt — ballooned to P4.45 trillion, P109.56 billion higher than the previous month.

This was due to a “P27.98-billion net availment of external loans and P94.28-billion impact of local-currency depreciation against the US dollar,” the Treasury said.

“On the other hand, third-currency adjustments against the US dollar trimmed P12.30 billion from the peso value of foreign currency debt,” it added.

Since the start of the year, external debt has grown by P242.83 billion.

Guaranteed obligations, meanwhile, plunged by P3.42 billion to P380.69 billion as of end-April.

The drop was attributed to the net repayment of domestic guarantees amounting to P5.51 billion and third-currency adjustments amounting to P1.87 billion.

“These were tempered by the impact of local currency depreciation amounting to P3.95 billion,” the Treasury said.

Guaranteed debt as of end-April was P18.35 billion lower from the end of last year.

Sought for comment, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said the latest borrowings could reflect the need to finance wider budget deficits.

“For the coming months, a new record high for the outstanding national government [debt] in peso terms is still possible, in view of the upcoming US dollar-denominated or euro-denominated retail bond issuance in the third quarter of 2023,” he added.

China Banking Corp. chief economist Domini Velasquez said government debt could continue to rise but at a slower pace given a spending slowdown.

“If we look at the fiscal performance of the national government, the deficit has continued to outperform the program mainly because spending is lower,” she said.

“This is challenging … because we still need government spending to support economic growth.”

Velasquez also noted that interest rates were also moving in the government’s favor as these have come down from last year’s highs and will likely continue to do so.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Antonio Mapa, meanwhile, said fiscal authorities “will attempt to help foster faster economic growth to ensure the more important metric of debt to GDP (gross domestic product) remains on a downward trajectory.”  — Niña Myka Pauline Arceo