Gov’t may launch dollar RTB offer this month


THE GOVERNMENT may push through with the launch of its US dollar retail Treasury bond (RTB) offer this month, National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said.

“We’re monitoring the markets right now. We’re conducting financial literacy (seminars), including in Doha and Dubai. So, we’re looking at the interest of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” Ms. De Leon said in a press chat on Friday.

“So maybe at the end of the month, we’re looking. We will see, we’re not officially saying we are going to launch,” she added.

Earlier in July, Ms. De Leon said that they were planning to launch the retail dollar bond offering by September.

The government then said it was targeting an offer size of $2 billion.

The Philippines’ last retail dollar bond sale was in 2021, when it raised almost $1.6 billion.

In January, the government also raised $3 billion from its second global bond offering under the Marcos administration.

Ms. De Leon earlier said that the retail dollar bonds can be marketed through platforms such as the Bonds.PH app, the Land Bank of the Philippines mobile app and selling agents. The government is also working on coordinating with banks to waive the fees for opening dollar accounts.

This year, the government plans to borrow P2.207 trillion, of which 75% will be sourced locally. Broken down, P1.654 trillion will be sourced domestically and P553.5 billion will come from overseas.

As of end-July, the National Government’s (NG) outstanding debt stood at P14.24 trillion.

External debt rose by 9.3% to P4.43 trillion at the end of July, which consisted of P2.42 trillion in global bonds and P2.02 trillion in loans.

UNUSED LOAN PROCEEDSMeanwhile, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that the Philippines is returning unused loan proceeds worth $320 million to the World Bank.

Last week, the World Bank held a high-level meeting with the heads of the departments of Finance and Health, as well as the National Economic and Development Authority.

“The $320 million was excess from the pandemic. The World Bank advised us to return that and come up with a new program,” Mr. Diokno said in mixed English and Filipino.

The loan proceeds were supposed to be used to purchase coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. However, Mr. Diokno said the funds were not utilized as the country is already recovering from the pandemic and there were enough donations of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Mr. Diokno said that the government is working on another health-related loan program focusing on “strengthening local health (and) preparing for the next pandemic.”

From 2020 until July 2023, the World Bank has provided over $7 billion for COVID-19 programs for the Philippines. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

Neil Banzuelo

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