Philippines looks to issue by June $3B in RTBs for OFWs

By Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

January 22, 2023

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DAVOS, Switzerland —The Marcos administration plans to mobilize the Philippine diaspora into a potent pool of investors by offering by June this year as much as $3 billion worth of US dollar-denominated Retail Treasury Bonds (RTBs) targeting overseas Filipino communities.

This was shared to the Inquirer by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting here.

After the events in Davos, Diokno said he would go to Frankfurt for another economic briefing and to meet with the Filipino community there.

While details have yet to be firmed up, Diokno said the government planned to launch a bigger tranche of RTBs denominated in US dollars.

“There may be appetite among OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) so it could be around $3 billion,” Diokno said.

Like in the previous batch, he said the next dollar RTB tranche would have a tenor of at least five years.

In a separate interview by phone, National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, who is in Manila, said Diokno would like to harness the Filipino diaspora for the RTBs.

Minimum investment

“Last year, we issued $1.5 billion but mostly taken up by FCDUs (foreign currency deposit units), so this time around we really want to tap the OFWs,” de Leon said.

She said the minimum investment for this new tranche would be lowered to $200 from $300 to be able to attract more OFW investors.

State-owned Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines will arrange the offering, which will likely happen within the first half of this year, De Leon said.

The meeting with the overseas Filipino community would also double as a financial literacy session to promote the RTBs as an investment option.

“Also we want to tell them they don’t even have to be here because there are platforms. They could order from their smartphone like through and it will be in their name instead of their spouse or other people,” she said.

“It’s also for them to also know we have an additional investment product if they want to preserve the value of their dollars,” she added.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data showed that from January-November 2022, money sent home by overseas Filipinos amounted to $32.65 billion, up by 3.4 percent from the same period in 2021.

If the government could tap even just 10 percent of this amount, De Leon said it would boost demand for the RTB offering.