Teves says RP may tap Samurai funds
Tokyo, Japan (June 18) -- The Philippines can tap 1 billion dollars to 1.5 billion dollars in Samurai funds within the year to help finance its projected P50-billion increased 2009 budgetary deficit and other pump-priming projects to sustain modest economic growth.
Samurai funds are proceeds of yen bonds that can be issued by international organizations, foreign corporations and foreign governments with a shorter maturity period and usually with a fixed interest rate.
The Japanese government earlier announced the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will provide a guarantee of up to 500 billion yen to other Asian countries affected by the global crisis if they will issue yen-denominated Samurai bonds.
In a media interview at the Imperial Hotel here, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Margarito Teves said the possibility of floating Samurai bonds will likely be one of the topics President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will discuss with Japan's Finance Ministry officials and private financial institutions during her June 17-20 working visit here.
Teves said the Philippines can issue Samurai bonds worth 1 billion dollars to 1.5 billion dollars depending on the terms and how much can be availed of from its Official Development Assistance (ODA) package.
"We raised our deficit from P177 billion to P199 billion then to P250 billion, so we need to look for other facilities that will help finance this additional deficit," Teves explained.
He said the government has lowered this year's economic growth projection to between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent from the earlier target of 3.1 to 4.1 percent due to the impact of the global financial crisis.
Presently, Teves said the country's overall deficit of about 3.2 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is still lower compared to the 4.3 average of other countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
Teves said floating bonds or tapping grants and various loan sources are normal alternatives in managing budgetary deficits particularly during times of global financial crisis.
"So the Samurai bonds can be available to emerging economies or developing countries which are suffering from the effects of the global financial crisis," Teves said, adding that Japan currently has lots of liquid resources to spare.
Teves, however, said Samurai bonds are a little bit more expensive compared to traditional ODA loans that have longer maturity periods extending up to 30 years with a 10-year grace period.
As it is, Teves said, floating Samurai bonds is an option considering its availability at this time unlike ODAs that sometimes take a lot of time to secure aside from having certain tight conditionalities.
"However, if there are some other types of ODA packages that are relatively cheaper then we can tap them," Teves said.
He said if reasonable terms and the necessary approval can be acquired, Samurai bonds can be floated between now and the end of the year. (OPS/PIA-MMIO) [top]