(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines is looking to raise 400 billion pesos ($7.2 billion) of treasury bonds being marketed to retail investors this month while watching the market for its next global bond offer, according to National Treasurer officer-in-charge Sharon Almanza.

The Bureau of the Treasury sold an initial tranche of 212.7 billion pesos retail bonds at a price-setting auction on Tuesday. The five-year bond, which comes with an offer to exchange eligible holdings with the new issue, were priced at a coupon of 6.25%. The bonds will be offered to the general public through Feb. 23.

Bond sales to retail investors are a big source of financing for the Philippine government, which this year must raise 2.46 trillion pesos from foreign and local sources to plug a budget deficit and repay debts.

Philippines to Tap Retail Bond Market Next Week to Repay Debts

The retail treasury bonds “will help drive the government’s socioeconomic agenda forward,” Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said during the bond launch. The Philippines has raised a total 5.1 trillion pesos from retail debts since their inaugural sale more than two decades ago.

The Philippines, which has investment-grade credit ratings, is seeking to broaden the base of its bond investors as it looks to fund a budget deficit of about 1.4 trillion pesos in 2024 and support economic growth targeted to reach 6.5%-7.5% this year.

The government plans to issue $5 billion in international bonds this year, and may tap the market as early as this quarter. “We are ready in terms of our approvals, all the necessary regulatory requirements. It’s just a matter of execution when the timing is right,” she said.

The Philippines last year made two trips to the dollar international bond market, with a $3-billion three part deal in January that included sustainability debt and another $1 billion in its first US-currency Islamic note. 

--With assistance from Cliff Venzon.

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