BSP adopts extraordinary measures to boost liquidity

April 13, 2020

The Bangko Sentral is shoring up domestic liquidity to address the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019  pandemic.

It has decided to implement extraordinary measures to help in the national government’s Covid-19 response by, among others, expanding the range of peso-denominated government securities  that it buys starting April 8.

In a statement, the BSP said that since March 24, 2020, it opened a daily one-hour window from 9:30-10:30 a.m. to buy a select series of highly traded and liquid GS from banks at market prices.

However, this changed after it decided to purchase not just select series but all peso-denominated GS issuances.

“This measure is aimed at reassuring market participants of demand for GS should they need to liquidate their holdings thus, encouraging participation in the GS auctions,” the BSP said.

It said this exercise would  remain open between April and June 2020, or until market conditions return to normal.

Along with the decision to purchase peso-denominated GS is the cut of its offering for the overnight reverse repurchase  facility starting April 8 “as necessary depending on liquidity conditions to encourage counterparties to lend in the interbank market or re-channel their funds into other assets such as GS or loans”.

These are on top of the P300-billion repurchase agreement with the national government  wherein the BSP would  buy a three-month GS from the Bureau of the Treasury for a  at no cost.

“The Monetary Board may extend the repurchase period for a maximum of three more months upon due date, if conditions so warrant. In turn, the NG shall use the proceeds to finance expenditures authorized in its annual appropriation, as deemed necessary to support programs to counter the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country,” the BSP said.

It said these measures are being made since the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease(Covid-19) “has had a sweeping impact on economies and financial systems around the world.”.

“The outlook for global economic growth has dimmed considerably in Q1 (first quarter) 2020, while turbulence in financial markets has constrained liquidity. These developments have prompted monetary authorities around the world to step in to cushion economic activity and stabilize financial markets,” it said.

As a result of this global development, the BSP said it has observed some volatility in the domestic financial market in recent weeks, as uncertainty over the impact of the health crisis continues to dampen market sentiment.

It  said while it “believes that the Philippine financial system remains sound with adequate capital and liquidity buffers, we also recognize the need to shore up market confidence to ensure the proper functioning of the financial market and prevent serious repercussions on the economy over the medium term”.

“Therefore, guided by its mandate as the country’s central monetary authority, and in accordance with the provisions of the New Central Bank Act, the BSP deems it necessary to take extraordinary measures to complement the national government’s broad-based health and fiscal programs in mitigating the impact of Covid-19,” it said.

By ensuring sufficient liquidity in the financial system, the BSP aims to assist its financial intermediaries in responding to the needs of Filipino households and businesses amid these challenging times, it added. 

In a piece he wrote for the Nikkei Asian Review, BSP Gov.  Benjamin Diokno said monetary officials “can increase to P500 billion if necessary” the repurchase agreement with the NG.

Aside from this agreement with the NG, the central bank’s policy-making Monetary Board has reduced the central bank’s key policy rates by a total of 75 basis points and cut universal and commercial banks’  reserve requirement ratio by 200 basis points.

Diokno said these, along with several other measures decided just recently, are aimed to ensure sufficient liquidity for households and businesses in these trying times, among others.

“Now is the time for swift and decisive leadership, nor for ponderous contemplation that typifies bureaucracies,” he added.