, May 7 , 2004
By Des Ferriols  -  New borrowings of the Arroyo administration aggravated by the sharp depreciation of the peso against the dollar bloated the country’s total debt stock to P4.130 trillion in February this year.

Considering that the country has a total population of at least 80 million, this means that Filipinos now owe P51,000 each.

Excluding contingent liabilities, the country's total debt stock went up by 17 percent to P3.407 trillion in February from P2.906 trillion a year ago.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the 17 percent increase was the biggest one-year jump in over five years as the government accumulated foreign debt that became even more expensive as the peso plummeted against the dollar in the first two months of the year.

During the review period, the country’s domestic debt stood at P1.755 trillion, up from P1.461 trillion a year ago. Foreign debt, on the other hand, rose to P1.651 trillion in February from P1.445 trillion in the same period last year.

As the government guaranteed even more loans to government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCS) as well as private borrowers that were awarded sovereign guarantees on their borrowing, the government’s contingent liabilities also exploded to P723.372 billion in February this year from P609.2 billion a year ago.

The DOF said the increase in contingent liabilities was caused by the increase in the number of

government guarantees extended to foreign and local borrowings of several private corporations as well as government-owned and -controlled corporations.

Direct NG liabilities, according to the DOF, amounted to P2.562 trillion during the review period. Of this amount, domestic borrowing at P1.753 trillion accounted for 68 percent of total while the rest, amounting to P808 million was foreign debt.

The DOF reported that the NG’s domestic debt included about P1.37 trillion worth of government securities while foreign denominated securities accounted for P835.921 billion of its total foreign debt.

Data showed that the government was forced to assume a total of P2.297 billion worth of domestic debt and a total of P6.961 billion worth of foreign debt accumulated by GOCCs.

On the other hand, DOF data showed that the sharp increase in the NG’s contingent liabilities resulted mainly from the surge in foreign loans that government guaranteed on behalf of GOCCs.

Between January and February alone, the DOF showed that the NG’s contingent debt rose from P690.58 billion to P700.732 billion as the government granted direct guarantees to GOCC borrowings, particularly the National Power Corp. (Napocor).

The Arroyo administration has already gone full-steam into its borrowing plan for 2004 to bridge the gap in the national budget, completing its foreign borrowing last month.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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