THE COUNTRY’s external position remained in surplus in February to mark the fourth straight month of net dollar inflows, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Tuesday.
The Philippines’ balance of payments (BoP) position recorded a $469-million surplus last month, narrowing from January’s $2.704-billion surfeit but turning around from the $429-million deficit seen in February 2018.
The BoP measures the country’s transactions with the rest of the world at a given time. A surplus means more funds entered the Philippines compared to money pulled out by foreign investors.
The central bank on Tuesday attributed the positive BoP to bigger net foreign currency deposits held by the national government, coupled with strong income from the BSP’s overseas investments. The BSP added that its foreign exchange operations boosted the BoP tally.
The Bureau of the Treasury raised $1.5 billion from the sale of 10-year dollar bonds to foreign investors in January, which was followed by a two-week offer of five-year retail Treasury bonds that started late February.
The February figure also reflects the higher gross international reserves that month, totaling $82.78 billion. Currency traders have said that the BSP likely bought more dollars to rebuild the reserves, which had slipped to a seven-year low in 2018 as the monetary authority used the amount to cushion the peso’s drop.
Year-to-date, the BoP tally now stands at a $3.17-billion surplus, turning around from the $961-million deficit in 2017’s first two months. This compares to the $3.5-billion deficit the central bank expects for 2019, as well as the $2.306-billion gap incurred in 2018.
“The surplus may be attributed partly to remittance inflows from overseas Filipinos in January 2019 and net inflows of foreign portfolio investments for the first two months of the year, which was a reversal of the net outflows reported in January-February 2018,” the BSP said in a press release.
The central bank attributed 2018’s huge BoP gap to a wider trade deficit. The current account deficit — which measures external goods trade — stood at an all-time-high $7.9 billion in 2018, bigger than the $2.2 billion recorded in 2017 and surpassing the $6.4-billion projection of the BSP. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez