The country’s balance of payments (BOP) swung to its biggest surplus in four months at $2.61 billion in April, according to data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Wednesday.
The amount was higher than the $1.66 billion in April 2020, and it represented an about face from the $73 million deficit in March.
The April gap was “was attributed to inflows arising mainly from the proceeds of the national government’s ROP (Republic of the Philippines) global and samurai bond issuances, which were deposited with the BSP,” according to the central bank.
Last December, the national government secured $2.75 billion (about P132.13 billion) through a two-tranche issuance of US dollar-denominated bonds. Last March, it also borrowed 55 billion yen ($500 million, or P24.23 billion) in “samurai” bonds.
The most recent monthly result narrowed the payments balance shortfall to $231 million in the first four months of the year, but it remains a far cry from the $1.59 billion surplus in the same period of 2020.
“Based on preliminary data, this cumulative BoP deficit was partly due to the country’s merchandise trade deficit and net outflows of foreign portfolio investments,” the central bank said.
The Bangko Sentral expects a $6.2-billion surplus in the payments balance this year, owing to a larger current account surplus as a result of the projected broad-based rebound in both goods and services trade, as well as the expectation of a vaccine-backed and policy-supported restoration of global and local economic activities this year.
The BoP position revealed a larger final gross international reserves (GIR) level of $107.71 billion at the end of April.
The central bank stated that this level “represents a more than adequate external liquidity buffer, which can help cushion the domestic economy against external shocks.”
The final GIR represents 12.3 months of goods imports, service payments, and primary income. In terms of original maturity, it’s also 7.4 times the country’s short-term external debt, and 5.1 times in terms of residual maturity.