MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The country's outstanding external debt grew by 3.3% to $62.9 billion as of end-March from $60.9 billion during the same period in 2011, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Friday.
External debt is the outstanding amount of liabilities of government and private firms owed to foreign creditors.
"The increase is due largely to $2.3 billion net availments (excess of borrowings over repayments) as investment and business activities by both public and private sector entities escalated due to the upbeat business sentiment," the BSP said, in a statement.
The outstanding foreign debt remained manageable, as the external debt ratio using gross domestic product imrpoved to 27.4% versus 29.5% in 2011. External debt ratio is an indicator of solvency and reflects the country's capacity to repay foreign obligations over the long term.
Despite the increase, BSP officer-in-charge Juan D. De Zuniga, Jr. said notwithstanding the higher debt level, major external debt indicators remain at prudent and comfortable levels in the first quarter.