Remittance to reach $14.1b

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has raised its forecast on remittances of Filipino migrant workers to $14.74 billion this year from $14.1 billion after a revision in external account targets.

Central bank Deputy Gov. Diwa Guinigundo said remittances from Filipino migrant workers would amount to $14.74 billion this year, with $14.04 billion coursed through banks.

Remittances of Filipino migrant workers amounted to $2.2 billion in the first two months of the year, up 25.6 percent over last year’s figure.

Central bank Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. last week raised the balance of payments surplus target to $2 billion this year from $1.6 billion.

Remittances are part of the BoP that also includes exports, imports, investments, loans and debt servicing.

Guinigundo said the central bank expected the country’s current accounts surplus to exceed $5 billion this year. The current accounts refer to the trade in goods and services and do not include investments and loans. The Philippines last year reported a current accounts surplus of $5.022 billion.

Guinigundo said exports were expected to grow 11 percent this year, slower than last year’s 15.6 percent, while imports were seen to improve 12 percent, up from last year’s 9.8 percent.

Guinigundo said preliminary projections also pointed to gross investments of $2 billion.

The central bank expects the gross international reserves to increase to $25.5 to $26 billion the end of the year with the huge BoP surplus.

The Philippines posted a BoP surplus of $1.411 billion in the first quarter of the year despite loan pre-payments by the national government and the central bank. The first quarter surplus helped bring the gross international reserves to an all-time high of $24.68 billion at the end of March.

The surplus in the BoP has translated into higher foreign currency reserves that have strengthened the peso to six-year highs.

The central bank plans to build up its reserves to the $25 billion to $30 billion by 2010.