PHL external debt remains manageable in Q1 2024 – BSP

ABS-CBN News photo

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

The Philippines’ external debt stood at $128.7 billion by the end of March 2024, marking a $3.3 billion increase (2.6%) from the $125.4 billion level recorded at the end of December 2023, according to the latest data released by the government through the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Despite this rise, the external debt-to-GDP ratio remained stable at 29.0%, up slightly from 28.7% in the previous quarter.

Key external debt indicators continued to show strength. Gross international reserves (GIR) were reported at $104.1 billion, providing a 3.8 times cover for short-term (ST) debt.*

The debt service ratio (DSR), which measures principal and interest payments against exports and primary income receipts, improved significantly to 8.9% from 13.0% a year ago, reflecting lower scheduled debt service payments.


The increase in external debt was attributed mainly to net availments by resident entities amounting to $2.5 billion, predominantly by private sector banks which secured $2.1 billion from offshore creditors for corporate expenditures, refinancing, and liquidity purposes.

Public sector entities contributed $331 million in net availments, driven by the National Government’s (NG) initiatives to enhance tax efficiency and digital technology adoption.

Positive investor sentiment also played a role, with non-resident investments in Philippine debt securities rising by $1.2 billion.

Adjustments from previous periods added $551 million to the debt level, while a negative foreign exchange revaluation of $927 million due to the appreciation of the US dollar partially offset the increase.

Year-on-year, the external debt rose by $9.9 billion (8.3%) from $118.8 billion in March 2023. This growth was primarily due to $8.9 billion in net availments, with $5.4 billion from private sector borrowings.

Additionally, the acquisition of Philippine debt securities by non-residents contributed $1.5 billion, and previous years’ adjustments added $1.0 billion. The negative foreign exchange revaluation of $1.6 billion tempered the overall increase.


The maturity profile of the external debt remained predominantly medium- to long-term (MLT), accounting for 86.7% ($111.6 billion) of the total. The weighted average maturity for all MLT accounts rose to 16.8 years, with public sector borrowings averaging 20.1 years, compared to 7.6 years for the private sector.

Short-term (ST) liabilities were at $17.1 billion, mainly consisting of bank liabilities ($13.1 billion), trade credits ($2.7 billion), and other liabilities ($1.3 billion).

Public sector external debt grew by $1.1 billion (1.4%) to $78.9 billion, although its share of the total decreased to 61.3% from 62.1% in the previous quarter. This was largely due to $1.6 billion in net acquisitions by non-residents of public sector debt securities and $331 million in net availments for various NG projects.

Private sector debt rose by $2.2 billion (4.7%) to $49.8 billion, representing 38.7% of the total debt, up from 37.9% in the last quarter of 2023. The increase was mainly due to $1.8 billion in bond issuances by local private banks.


The main creditor countries were Japan ($15.2 billion), the United Kingdom ($4.6 billion), and the Netherlands ($3.9 billion).

Loans from official sources, including multilateral and bilateral creditors, accounted for the largest share of the debt at $50.7 billion (39.4%), followed by bonds and notes ($42.2 billion or 32.8%), and obligations to foreign banks and financial institutions ($28.5 billion or 22.1%).

In terms of currency, the debt stock was primarily denominated in US dollars ($97.8 billion or 76.0%), followed by Japanese yen ($11.1 billion or 8.6%). The remaining $19.8 billion (15.4%) was spread across 17 other currencies, including the Philippine peso ($9.3 billion or 7.2%), the Euro ($5.9 billion or 4.6%), and Special Drawing Rights ($3.8 billion or 2.9%).

*ST accounts under the remaining maturity concept consist of loans with original maturities of one (1) year or less plus amortizations on medium- and long-term (MLT) accounts falling due within the next 12 months starting April 2024.