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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                                 12  September 2011

Philippine central bank urges repayment

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THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the government should prepay some of it foreign currency-denominated debt to cushion the impact of huge inflows of hot money into the country.

Citing recent gross international reserves data, monetary authorities said now is a good time to prepay the country's foreign debt because there is enough external liquidity.

The Philippines' GIR jumped by 51 percent to $75.6 billion at the end of August from the US$49.905 billion in the same period last year.

Month-on-month, foreign exchange holdings inched up 5.11 percent from $71.883 billion at end-July.

The eight-month figure already exceeded the revised full-year forecast of between $74 billion and $75 billion.

Data from the central bank showed that during the first half, total prepayments on medium- and long-term foreign loans reached $530.9 million, or 3.20 percent lower than the $584.4-million in the same period last year. The bulk of last year's prepayments or $488.8 million were made by the private sector.

Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed the national government debt in May stood at P4.776 trillion, of which P2.040 trillion were owed to foreigners, mostly in US dollars.

The BSP said prepaying dollar-denominated loans would stimulate demand for the greenback, which in turn would help temper the appreciation of the peso.

Upward pressure on the peso since the start of the year has been forcing the central bank to spend more buying dollars to avoid a sharp and sudden appreciation of the peso.

Under its exchange rate policy, the BSP allows market forces to determine the exchange rate, but it intervenes from time to time to avoid too much volatility.

Data from the BSP showed that the peso remained competitive against a narrow and a broad basket of currencies in the region.

As of August, the local unit has appreciated by 2.54 percent against major trading partners, such as the US, Japan, the European Monetary Union, and the United Kingdom using the average inflation rate of the previous two months.


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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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