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Debt stock rose slightly in Q3, BSP says

The country’s debt stock increased slightly in the third quarter but still stayed within manageable levels relative to the size of the country’s economy, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.

In a statement on Friday, the BSP stressed that its gross international reserves (GIR) were more than enough to cover all of the government’s and the private sector’s obligations to foreigners.

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“Major external debt indicators remained at prudent levels in the third quarter of 2013,” the BSP said in a statement Thursday.

In nominal terms, the country’s total external debt rose by $1 billion to $59.1 billion in September from $58 billion in June.

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Despite the increase from the second quarter, the country’s debt stock was still lower than the September 2012 level of $61.7 billion.

The BSP mainly attributed the quarter-on-quarter decline to the increase in foreign investments in Philippine debt securities and foreign exchange revaluations.

As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the country’s debt at the end of the third quarter inched up slightly to 21.9 percent from 21.8 percent the month before.

The end-September figure was better than the 25.6 percent foreign debt-to-GDP ratio at the end of the same month last year.

The BSP’s GIR at the end of September stood at $83.5 billion, representing 8.4 times the level of the country’s short-term debt based on original maturity.

The central bank added that the country’s external debt service ratio, or the ratio of total principal and interest payments relative to total exports of goods and receipts from services and income, stood at 7.6 percent, better than 8.3 percent last year.

This means that only a small fraction of the country’s income from abroad is used to pay its foreign obligations.

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“The ratio, which measures sufficiency of foreign exchange available to meet currently maturing obligations, has remained well below the 20 to 25 percent international benchmark, attesting to the country’s strong liquidity position,” the BSP said.

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