THE country’s gross international reserves rose to $81.5 billion at the end of December last year, surpassing the target of $80.7 billion, due mainly to inflows arising from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ foreign exchange operations and revaluation adjustments on its gold holdings.
Data showed the end-December reserves were higher than $80.3 billion recorded a month ago. The full-year GIR was also higher than $80.69 billion in 2016.
Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said the end-December reserves level remained adequate as it could cover 8.3 months’ worth of imports of goods and payments of services and primary income.
“It is also equivalent to 5.8 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 4.2 times based on residual maturity,” he said.
He said the inflows were partially offset by payments made by the national government and the Bangko Sentral for their maturing foreign exchange obligations.
Net international reserves, which refer to the difference between the BSP’s GIR and total short-term liabilities, increased $1.1 billion to $81.4 billion as of end-December, compared with the end-November NIR of $80.3 billion.
Data showed the value of Bangko Sentral’s gold holdings increased to $8.336 billion from $8.045 billion a month ago.
Reserves hit an all-time high of $86.139 billion in end-September 2016. Reserves ended 2016 at $80.69 billion from $80.66 billion a year ago.
Bangko Sentral last year projected the reserves to hit $80.7 billion, down from the $84.7-billion estimate made in December 2016, due to an expected balance of payments deficit of $500 million, down from the previous estimate of $1 billion surplus.
The GIR is estimated to hit $80 billion this year.