by Roderick T. dela Cruz
The Bangko Sentral accumulated another $1.7 billion worth of foreign exchange last month on strong dollar inflows from abroad, pushing the gross international reserves to a new record level of $77.04 billion as of end-January.
The figure was up 2.3 percent from $75.3 billion recorded in December and 21.3 percent from $63.54 billion in January 2011.
The peso, meanwhile, strengthened Tuesday to 42.41 against the US dollar after the Reserve Bank of Australia unexpectedly kept interest rates on hold, signaling it is optimistic the global economy is recovering.
The local currency rose to an intraday high of 42.28.
Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. attributed the buildup in the reserves level to the proceeds from the government’s dollar-denominated 25-year global bonds issuance, revaluation gains on gold holdings as well as income from investments abroad of Bangko Sentral.
The government in early January raised $1.5 billion from the issuance of 25-year global bond registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The end-January 2012 GIR could cover 11.3 months worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to 10.8 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 6.9 times based on residual maturity,” said Tetangco.
The reserves also exceeded the total foreign debt of the Philippine government and private sector, estimated at $62.4 billion as of end-September 2011.