MANILA, Philippines - Finance secretary Margarito Teves said on Thursday the government will keep its budget deficit target at P293 billion, despite seeing a record budget gap of P298.5 billion last year, slightly more than even its worst-case estimate.
Teves told reporters the government wants to monitor the economy's performance in the first quarter to determine whether the target would be changed.
The government's fiscal position has been one of the direct consequences of perenially weak tax collections and rising spending amidst the global economic slowdown.
Due to its deficit position, the Philippines has been Asia's largest sovereign issuer in global debt markets. This defies President Arroyo's promise during her last State of the Nation Address in July that the government will not increase its foreign debts anymore.
Instead, the Philipppines has raised $1.5 billion from a global bond sale last month, the first in Asia this year. It wants to raise as much as $1 billion from a yen bond sale this month to meet its $2.5 billion foreign debt need for this year, aimed at partly funding the budget shortfall and repaying debts.
The government is planning to sell around $500 million of retail bonds denominated in euros and dollars with maturities of 3 to 5 years to Filipinos abroad next month, sources said. - with report from Reuters, graphics by Lala Rimando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak