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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                              7  September 2011

Philippines may relax forex rules

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Philippine monetary authorities are mulling over a further relaxation of foreign exchange regulations as they hiked their forecast for gross international reserves (GIR) this year amid the surge in hot money inflows.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. said they are looking at allowing unregistered companies and entities with foreign loans to buy foreign currencies from the banking system for a certain period of time to increase demand for the US dollar.

“Not all borrowers are registered like exporters who have access to foreign exchange market or other services. We will allow them to buy dollars from the banking system. This is something that we’ll study, but this is the direction that we’re looking at for further liberalizing the foreign exchange market. In other words this will hopefully fill the demand for dollar in the official market,” Tetangco told reporters.

He said existing regulations require companies or entities to register at any local bank before they can access the foreign exchange market.

If the policy-making Monetary Board approves the mechanism, then this would be the fifth time foreign exchange regulations are relaxed.

In October last year, the BSP increased the limit for over-the-counter foreign exchange purchases by residents from authorized agent banks and foreign exchange corporations without documentation for non-trade current account purposes.

This would encourage transactions through the banking system and away from the unsupervised foreign exchange market, according to the central bank.

At the same, the BSP increased the amount of foreign exchange that departing non-resident tourists or a balikbayan can reconvert at airports or other ports of exit.

The central bank also allowed residents to buy foreign exchange from authorized banks and foreign exchange corporations of up to $1 million from the previous limit of $100,000 to cover advance payment requirements for import transactions without BSP approval but subject to standard documentary requirements.

Monetary officials said this would ease trade transactions and shorten turn-around time for imports.


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