The country’s gross international reserves (GIR) stood at US$37.1 billion as of end-December 2008, higher by US$300 million than the previous month’s level of US$36.8 billion, and by US$3.3 billion than the end-2007 GIR of US$33.8 billion. The annual increase in the GIR level in 2008 was attributed mainly to inflows from the Bangko Sentral’s (BSP) net foreign exchange operations and income from its investments abroad, as well as the National Government’s (NG) deposit of proceeds from its reopening of global bonds and other foreign borrowings during the year. Revaluation gains in the BSP’s gold holdings on account of the increase in the price of gold in the international market during the year also contributed to the higher year-end GIR level. These receipts were offset by outflows arising mainly from payments of maturing foreign currency-denominated obligations of the NG and the BSP.
The year-end GIR level can cover 5.6 months of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to 4.5 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 2.8 times based on residual maturity. Short-term debt based on residual maturity refers to the sum of short-term external debt and medium- and long-term loan repayments falling due within the next 12 months.
The level of net international reserves (NIR) as of end-December 2008, which includes revaluation of reserve assets and reserve-related liabilities, likewise rose to US$35.5 billion compared to the previous month’s level of US$35.3 billion. NIR refers to the difference between the BSP’s GIR and total short-term liabilities.