Remittances increase 5.6% in March

Remittances sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) recorded a strong growth for the second straight month in March amid the reopening of borders in host countries and the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, according to a report by Philippine Star.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said personal remittances went up by 5.6 percent to $2.8 billion in March from $2.65 billion in the same month last year.

“This is the second consecutive month that remittances were higher than last year’s levels, reflecting mainly the easing of travel restrictions, reopening of borders to foreign workers, and progress in COVID-19 vaccine rollout in many advanced countries,” Diokno said.

Personal remittances covers all current transfers in cash or in kind by OFWs, as well as other household-to-household transfers between Filipinos who have migrated abroad and their families in the Philippines.

Diokno said the increase in personal remittances was attributed to the five percent growth in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, to $2.11 billion from the previous $2.01 billion.

Likewise, Diokno said remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year also increased by 4.5 percent to $617 million from $591 million.

From January to March, the BSP chief said personal remittances grew by 2.9 percent to $8.45 billion from $8.22 billion in the same quarter last year.

Diokno said cash remittances coursed through bank also grew by 4.9 percent to $2.51 billion in March from $2.4 billion in the same month last year as remittances from land-based workers increased by five percent to $1.95 billion, while those from sea-based workers rose by 4.5 percent to $566 million.

From January to March, cash remittances increased by 2.6 percent to $7.59 billion from $7.4 billion in the same quarter last year, coming mostly from the US, Malaysia and Singapore.

Data released by the central bank showed the US registered the highest share to overall remittances at 40.8 percent for the first three months, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

The combined remittances from these top 10 countries accounted for 78.2 percent of total cash remittances in the first quarter.

The BSP sees OFW remittances recovering this year with a four percent growth after slumping by 0.8 percent in 2020.

Remittances remained resilient despite the massive displacement of OFWs as host countries were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has extended assistant to some 592,000 OFWs who have returned home since the repatriation started in May last year.

Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said the higher growth in remittances lately reflects faster economic rebound in some major host countries for OFWs around the world as increased COVID-19 vaccine rollouts helped reduce new cases leading to stronger economic recovery and creating new jobs.

“For the coming months, OFW remittances could mathematically post relatively larger positive year-on-year growth rates especially from April to May 2021, amid the low base effects a year ago in view of the anniversary of the hard stay-at-home orders in major OFW host countries around the world,” he said.


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