by Roderick T. dela Cruz
The country’s stock of dollars and other foreign exchange reserves hit a new record of $76.35 billion at the end of November, enough to cover all foreign debt, as remittances, outsourcing revenues, and foreign funds continued to flow into the country.
Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said the gross international reserves rose $500 million from $75.83 billion recorded in October, led by higher income from investments abroad and foreign exchange operations of the Bangko Sentral, foreign currency deposits by banks and the national government as well as higher prices of gold.
The reserves over a 12-month period rose $15.78 billion or 26 percent from $60.57 billion registered in November 2010.
The Bangko Sentral was originally expecting the GIR to be in the range of $68 billion to $70 billion by end-2011, but that level was breached as early as July. The forecast was revised to $75 billion and later to $76 billion.
The increase in reserves was led by the strong balance of payments position of the Philippine economy, which is projected to yield a surplus of at least $10 billion this year, according to Tetangco.
At $76.35 billion, the foreign exchange reserves could easily cover the country’s total foreign debt amounting to only $61.4 billion as of June 2011.
“The end-November 2011 GIR could cover 11.2 months worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to 10.7 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 6.5 times based on residual maturity,” said the Bangko Sentral.
Short-term debt based on residual maturity refers to outstanding external debt with original maturity of one year or less, plus principal payments on medium- and long-term loans of the public and private sectors falling due within the next 12 months.
Data showed that the gold components of the reserves hit $8.06 billion as of November, up from $7.9 billion in October and $6.9 billion a year ago.
Foreign investments of the Bangko Sentral grew to $66.22 billion in November from $65.9 billion in the previous month and $52 million a year earlier.
Other components of the reserves were $444.5 million in reserve position in the International Monetary Fund, $1.14 billion in special drawing rights and $482.6 million in foreign exchange.