By Lee C. Chipongian
The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) went up to $83.2 billion as of end-March partly due to government deposits to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), according to a statement attributed to BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.
The end-March GIR is higher than February’s $82.78 billion and same period last year of $80.51 billion, based on BSP data.
“The GIR level rose due mainly to inflows arising from the National Government’s (NG) net foreign currency deposits, BSP’s foreign exchange operations and income from its investments abroad,” said the BSP.
“However, the increase in reserves was tempered partially by payments made by the NG for servicing its foreign exchange obligations as well as revaluation losses from the BSP’s gold holdings, resulting from the decrease in the price of gold in the international market,” it added.
The current GIR level is still considered an “ample external liquidity buffer” to cover for the Philippines in times of global financial stresses. At this level, it is equivalent to 7.3 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income and up to five times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 3.4 times based on residual maturity.
GIR stood at $79.19 billion in 2018, more than the BSP projection of $76 billion, but it is lower than 2017’s $81.57 billion. For this year, the BSP is projecting a GIR level of $77 billion.