THE COUNTRY’S balance of payments (BoP) position swung to a surplus in April, due to inflows mainly from the bond issuances of the Bureau of the Treasury.

The BoP stood at a surfeit of $2.614 billion in April, bigger by 57% than the $1.666-billion surplus a year earlier and a turnaround from the $73-million deficit in March, data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Wednesday showed.

April’s BoP surplus ended three consecutive months of deficit.

“The BoP surplus in April 2021 was attributed to inflows arising mainly from the proceeds of the National Government’s (NG) ROP (Republic of the Philippines) global and samurai bond issuances, which were deposited with the BSP,” the central bank said in a statement.

The Treasury sold P24.2 billion (¥55 billion) in yen-denominated bonds with a three-year tenor in late March. In late April, the government raised another P122.4 billion (€2.1 billion) through its triple-tranche offering of euro-denominated bonds.

In the first four months of the year, the BoP position remained in a $231-million deficit, albeit narrower than the $1.598-billion gap in the same period of 2020.

The BoP shows a glimpse of the country’s transactions with the rest of the world. A deficit means more funds fled the country, while a surplus show that more money came in.

At its end-April position, the BoP reflects gross international reserves level of $107.71 billion, inching up by 3% from the $104.48 billion as of end-March.

This dollar reserves level is enough to cover 12.3 months of imports of payments and services and primary income. It is also about 7.4 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 5.1 times based on residual maturity.

Meanwhile, Asian Institute of Management economist John Paolo R. Rivera said a BoP surplus in the midst of a recession is “somewhat expected.”

“Consumer spending declined because people are only buying essentials given lower purchasing power. Therefore, expenditures on imported products will also decline,” he said in a Viber message.

The Philippine economy remained in a recession in the first quarter, after shrinking by 4.2%.

The central bank projects a BoP surplus of $6.2 billion this year, equivalent to 1.6% of the economy. — Luz Wendy T. Noble