By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that for the month of January, the balance of payments (BOP) reversed to a deficit position of $1.355 billion because of fund outflows.
This was the first BOP deficit number after six months of consistent surpluses. It reversed same time last year’s surplus of $2.704 billion as well.
In a statement, the BSP said the BOP deficit in January “reflected mainly the outflows arising from the National Government’s foreign currency withdrawals, which were used largely to pay its foreign currency debt obligations as well as net outflows in foreign portfolio investments” based on the report of custodian banks.
“These outflows were partly offset, however, by inflows representing the BSP’s net foreign exchange operations and income from its investments abroad during the month in review,” the BSP added.
The central bank also released the final gross international reserves (GIR) level for the month of January which was $86.87 billion. The BSP announces initial GIR figures two weeks before.
At this level, the country’s US dollar reserves are still considered “ample liquidity buffer” as it is equivalent to 7.6 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income. The GIR is also 5.4 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and four times based on residual maturity.
For this year, the BSP is projecting a BOP surplus of $3 billion. In 2019, the BOP surplus amounted to $7.843 billion, exceeding the BSP projection of $4.8 billion.
The estimated 2020 BOP surplus is equivalent to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.
In the meantime the BSP is projecting a GIR of $86 billion in 2020. Last year’s GIR reached $87.839 billion.