Personal remittances $2.32B; Cash remittances $2.1B
Growth in cash remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hit its fastest pace in more than five years in March, rebounding from a slowdown recorded in the preceding two months.
Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed cash remittances, or those coursed through banks, rose 11.3 percent year-on-year to $2.10 billion in March from $1.88 billion a year earlier.
This marks the cash remittances’ fastest growth pace in the past five years, topped only by an 11.4 percent rise in December 2009.
March cash remittances also rebounded from the 4.2 percent increase recorded in February, as well as the 0.5 percent in January this year.
A breakdown of remittances during the three-month period shows funds coursed through banks increased to $5.79 billion, or 5.5 percent over the amount sent in the same period last year.
The central bank noted that cash remittances during the period from land-based and sea-based Filipinos reached $4.4 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.
“The initiatives of banks and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage through tie-ups abroad, as well as the introduction of innovations in their remittance products continued to provide support to the steady flow of remittances,” the BSP said in a statement.
As of end-March, the central bank reported that commercials banks’ established tie-ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks and branches/representative offices abroad reached 4,840 from 4,771 a year earlier.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Canada were the major sources of the cash remittances for the three-month period.
Rebound from Jan-Feb slack
“I think OFWs are just making up for their slow remittances in January-February, [which was]made worse by the strengthening dollar against their host country’s currency,” said Victor Abola, economist at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P).
Abola noted that the US dollar started losing steam in March.
Personal remittances at 15-mth high
Meanwhile, growth measured in personal remittances posted a 15-month high in March at 11 percent. It was the highest growth in personal remittances since the 13.8 percent in December 2013.
Personal remittances reached $2.32 billion in March against $2.09 billion in the same month last year.
This brought total personal remittances for the first three months to $6.41 billion, up 5.1 percent from the $6.1 billion recorded in the same period in 2014.
Personal remittances consist of the net compensation for land-based overseas workers with short-term (one year or less) contracts and all sea-based workers; personal transfers in cash or in kind between overseas Filipinos or longer-term overseas workers and their families in the Philippines; and capital transfers between households, such as funds for home construction.