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January 10, 2009

Philippines: Slower remittances to dent foreign reserves

The Philippines’ foreign reserves would decline this year due to slower remittance flow from overseas Filipinos, the Manila Times quoted Fitch Ratings Inc as saying.

In a statement, Fitch Ratings said the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) is projected to reach below the $37 billion this year.

“Fitch expects the country’s current account to turn into a small deficit this year, and foreign reserves to decline slightly from last year’s $37.1 billion,” Franklin Poon, Fitch Sovereign group director said.

Poon said remittance flow from overseas workers would be affected by the global economic slowdown. The central bank expects remittance to grow by 6 percent to 9 percent this year from a projected $16 billion for 2008.

Remittances account for more than 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—the value of goods and services produced in a country—and has been an important driver for both external financing and the overall economy.

The ratings firm also projected that the country’s economic growth would decelerate to 2.5 percent this year and national government budget shortfall to widen to 2.3 percent of GDP. The government expects a GDP of 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent for this year while the budget gap is expected to go up to 102 billion peso from 75 billion peso last year.

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