The BSP complex on Roxas Boulevard in Manila (Photo from

Monetary authorities approved $7.4 billion in public sector loans in 2018, more than double the 2017 level.

In a statement, the Monetary Board, the policymaking body of the central bank, said 2018 approvals jumped by 111 percent from $3.5 billion in 2017.

The loans consisted of $3.6 billion in bonds, $2.9 billion for 12 project loans and $900 million for three program loans.

The money went to transport connectivity (roads, railways, port, and airport infrastructure), irrigation and agriculture development, flood management, and the reconstruction and development of Marawi City.

Of the total, $1.4 billion or 18 percent went to five infrastructure flagship projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, namely the Metro Manila Subway Projects, Phase I; Chico River Pump Irrigation Project; New Cebu International Container Port Project; New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project, Phase II; and Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project.

The board noted that the country’s external debt position remained at single-digit status despite the rise in external debt – 5.1 percent. The international benchmark, it noted, was 20 to 25 percent.

Section 20, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution requires prior approval of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, through the Monetary Board, of all foreign loans to be guaranteed by the Philippine government. (Jojo Mangahis)