BSP: Time To Increase Demand For US Dollar

by William Alzona

MANILA—The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) may further liberalize its foreign exchange rules by allowing companies to buy dollars from the banks to pay off its foreign debts even if these have not registered its loans with the central bank.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said that the move is aimed at increasing the demand for the US dollar and temper the rise of the local currency.

The new ruling may be approved during the next Monetary Board meeting on September 8.

The continued rise of the peso against the dollar hurts families of overseas Filipino workers, who are the main recipients of remittances, and make the Philippine exports less competitive overseas.

Tetangco said that it is time to increase the demand for the US dollar and mitigate the gains of the peso.

The peso on September 6 closed at P42.285 to US$1 or slightly higher than Monday’s close of P42.185.

According to the plan, the government will allow all companies to buy dollars from the banks to service their foreign loans or repay its principal debts.

Previously, only companies that were able to register its foreign loans can buy dollars from the lenders. The banks also ask for documents such as the certificate of registration and without it these requirements, the lenders do not allow companies to buy.

The central bank hopes to lift those restrictions but only for a limited period or until such time that demand for the greenback increases and there will be no ceiling on the amount that the companies can buy, Tetangco said.

The relaxation of the rule can also benefit exporters and other foreign exchange service who will be also allowed to buy dollars from the banks.

“In other words (we need) to fill the demand for dollars in the official market,” he said.

Since banks are restrictive in selling dollars even to consumers, it feeds the so-called gray market to thrive, which is more than willing to trade dollars. The BSP do not have a data on how much money is traded in the gray market.  

For a few years now, the central bank has been on the move to liberalize its foreign exchange rules.

Last year, the BSP allowed Filipino tourists going to other countries to take out up to $60,000 without documentary requirements while Philippines-based investors can invest overseas for up to $60 million without reporting to the central bank.

The revised rule is the fourth wave of the foreign exchange liberalization designed to align the policies of the central bank with its regional peers.

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