By Lee C. Chipongian
Sustained inflows continue to push up the country’s balance of payments (BOP) to a surplus position at $5.567 billion as of end-September, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.
The BOP monthly surplus for September was, however, a modest $38 million after reporting $493 million for August. This was the smallest monthly surplus for 2019 so far while the biggest was January’s $2.704 billion.
Last year, the BOP was still in deficit of $5.136 billion (end-September 2018) and the monthly shortfall then for September was $2.696 billion.
In a statement, the BSP said inflows in September this year came from the National Government’s (NG) net foreign currency deposits and from the central bank’s income from its overseas investments. “These inflows were offset, however, by outflows representing payments made by the NG on its foreign exchange obligations during the month in review,” said the BSP.
As for the year-to-date surplus, the BSP said continued healthy remittance inflows from overseas Filipinos and net inflows of foreign direct investments (FDI) contributed to the BOP surplus. The BSP expects FDI to reach $9 billion for this year.
The BSP also reported that final gross international reserves for end-September stood at $85.58 billion, equivalent to 7.4 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income, and 5.4 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 3.9 times based on residual maturity.
The BSP’s 2019 BOP projection is a surplus position of $3.7 billion. The BSP is expected to update the BOP estimate for 2019 and 2020 at the end of this month or in November. Last year, the BOP was in deficit of $2.306 billion.