By Lee C. Chipongian
The country’s balance of payments (BOP) remained in surplus as of end-April at $4.265 billion, an improvement from what was reported same time in 2018 of a $1.497-billion shortfall.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the four-month surplus was due to the steady remittances and speculative hot money inflows in the first three months of 2019.
“The surplus may be attributed partly to remittance inflows from overseas Filipinos and net inflows of foreign portfolio investments (net BSP-registered transactions based on custodian banks’ reports) during the first quarter of the year, and net inflows of foreign direct investments in first two months of 2019,” according to the BSP.
For the month of April only, the BOP surplus was at $467 million, reversing the $270 million deficit same time last year. This is the sixth month in a row that the BSP has been recording monthly surpluses, or since November 2018.
The April inflows increased because of the BSP’s foreign exchange operations plus its income from its overseas investments. The monthly BOP continue to be in surplus also because of the National Government’s (NG) net foreign currency deposits. “These were offset partially, however, by the payments made by the NG for its foreign exchange obligations during the month in review,” noted the BSP.
The BSP also announced that the final gross international reserves level as of end-April was at $83.88 billion, which is sufficient liquidity buffer for 7.4 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income.
This level is also five times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 3.5 times based on residual maturity.
The BSP is expected to revise its 2019 BOP projection which as of December 2018, was projected at a deficit of $3.5 billion or one percent of GDP.