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Government considering Samurai, dollar bonds this year

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Banknotes of Japanese yen and US dollar are seen in this illustration picture taken on Sept. 23, 2022. — REUTERS

THE GOVERNMENT is looking to issue Japanese yen-denominated and US dollar-denominated bonds within the year, the Finance chief said.

“I expect both the dollar and possibly Samurai bonds this year. Both are being considered,” Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto told reporters on the sidelines of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines-San Miguel Corp. economic forum.

The government plans to borrow $5 billion this year, of which $2 billion was raised from the issuance of global bonds last May. This leaves $3 billion that has yet to be raised.

“On the Samurai bonds, the first mandate of the Department of Finance and the Treasury is to ensure that if we have to borrow, we borrow at the lowest rate possible,” he said during the forum.

“Yes, we are considering Samurai bonds, but we’re timing the market, taking a look at the best time to do it, if at all we have to do it.”

The Philippines last issued Samurai bonds in April 2022, raising ¥70.1 billion.

Mr. Recto said the timing of the bond issuance will also depend on the US Federal Reserve’s easing path.

“It depends on the Fed or global markets. Once they start reducing the rates, then that will be an opportunity to borrow,” he added.

The Fed has earlier signaled it may push back the start of its easing cycle to December.

The National Government’s outstanding debt rose to a fresh high of P15.35 trillion as of end-May, with external debt accounting for 32% or P4.9 trillion of the total.

REVENUE COLLECTIONSMeanwhile, Mr. Recto said revenue collections jumped to P2.13 trillion in the first half of the year, 14.5% higher than P1.86 trillion collected in the same period last year.

“With 50% of the revenue target already achieved in the first semester, we are on track to reach the P4.27-trillion revenue program for 2024,” the DoF said in a separate statement.

Preliminary data from the department showed that tax revenues rose by 8.8% to P1.81 trillion as of end-June from P1.67 trillion a year ago.

Bureau of Internal Revenue collections rose by 10.2% to P1.34 trillion in the six-month period. This was already 44% of the BIR’s P3.05-trillion target for the year.

In a separate statement, the Bureau of Customs said collections jumped by 5.22% to P456.04 billion in the January-to-June period.

It also surpassed its P442.62-billion target for the six-month period by 3.03%, the agency said.

The DoF said nontax revenues in the first half expanded by 64.5% to P316.52 billion.

While the DoF said it is not looking to introduce new taxes this year, there are six measures pending in Congress that are expected to generate P42 billion in annual revenues.

These include the Package 4 of Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which includes an excise tax on pickup trucks, the value-added tax on digital service providers, excise tax on single-use plastics, the mining fiscal regime, the motor vehicle road user’s change, and amendments to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises law.

Tax collections are expected to increase by an average of 11.8% yearly due to digitalization and plugging of leakages in the tax system, Mr. Recto said.

‘DISCONTINUE POGO’Meanwhile, Mr. Recto said he is willing to recommend the closure of all Philippine offshore gaming operations to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

“If they were not doing anything hanky panky, and they’re paying taxes, fine with me. But I think there are many issues surrounding the POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) industry,” Mr. Recto told reporters.

“Because of that, I am willing to recommend to the President to discontinue POGOs,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

The government could lose P20 billion in annual revenues if it decides to ban POGOs, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. said earlier. — B.M.D.Cruz

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