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NEWS UPDATES 31 May 2009

Philippines likely to raise overseas debt

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The Philippines will likely extend its foreign borrowings this year, seeking half a billion dollars more than previously planned to plug a funding gap caused by falling revenues, a report said Friday.

Finance department officials have advised the central bank of the possibility that it may seek to raise up to one billion dollars from abroad, Dow Jones Newswires quoted an unnamed central bank official as saying.

Manila had earlier this year announced plans to borrow half a billion dollars later in 2009. It already raised 1.5 billion dollars from a global bond issue in January.

The report comes a day after the government announced that economic growth had slowed to a 10-year low of 0.4 percent in the three months to March.

Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto also said Thursday it was possible the full-year budget deficit would balloon to 250 billion pesos ($5.3 billion), or 25 percent more than the planned government limit as revenues dwindle from slower economic activity.

Recto said he was no longer confident Manila would even hit the lower end of the government's 3.1-4.1 economic growth target for this year -- on which revenue assumptions were based -- although he dismissed concern the economy could slip into recession.

He said President Gloria Arroyo's advisers were to meet shortly to review the growth targets. 


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