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February 7, 2009

Philippines: Reserves at $39.6bn in Jan
The Philippine's gross international reserves climbed to a record $39.6 billion at the end of January, due largely to inflows from a sovereign bond issue and power privatisation programme.

Reuters quoted the central bank as saying Friday that the current level of foreign reserves, up from a revised $37.6 billion at end-December, is equivalent to 4.8 times the country's short-term foreign debt based on original maturity and 3.0 times based on debt falling due in the next 12 months.

"The marked increase in reserves was due mainly to deposits by the national government of proceeds from its 10-year bond issue, and by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation of proceeds from the privatisation of the National Transmission Corp," the central bank said in a statement.

Last month, Manila raised $1.5 billion in what was Asia's first sovereign bond issue this year, covering its 2009 overseas debt requirement.

It also received around $1 billion in partial payment from a consortium that won the right to operate the country's power grid.

The central bank has said it expects gross international reserves to be at $37-37.5 billion by the end of the year, almost flat from last year, despite an expected slowdown in growth of remittance inflows.

Remittances, which form the backbone of the Philippine economy, are forecast to grow 3-6 percent this year, against an estimated 10 percent growth last year, because of the global economic crisis.

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