Personal remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) breached the $2-billion mark in March, posting a single-digit growth from last year’s level and rebounding from a slow performance in previous months.
Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) show that the remittances in March grew 6.9 percent to $2.08 billion from $1.99 billion in the same month last year.
The remittances level in March also rebounded from below expected showings in January and February at $1.99 billion and $2 billion, respectively.
Personal remittances represent the sum of net compensation for OFWs, personal transfers such as current transfers in cash or in kind by OFWs, as well as other household-to-household transfers between Filipinos abroad and capital transfers between households.
The central bank attributed the year-on-year increase in personal remittances to the steady rise in transfers of land-based workers with long-term contracts (4.5 percent) and sea-based and land-based workers with short-term contracts (10.9 percent).
In an e-mail to The Manila Times, Standard Chartered Bank economist Jeff Ng said the March remittances were better than expected because of positive economic developments during the month.
“We think that remittances are likely boosted by a stronger global growth outlook this year, with positive income and sentiment effects,” Ng explained.
He said remittances will continue to support the country’s economic growth, particularly in domestic consumption, foreign reserves and the exchange rate.
“We expect growth to remain robust this year, helped by stronger export and investment growth. Consumption will likely remain the bedrock for growth, remaining strong and stable,” Ng added.
The March remittance figure brought the cumulative amount of remittances for the first quarter of the year to $6.09 billion. Remittances in the first three months of 2013 stood at $5.71 billion.
Cash remittances for the first quarter of the year rose to $5.5 billion, six percent higher than the amount sent in the same period last year.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong were the major sources of the cash remittances.
In 2013, personal remittances reached $23.35 billion. This year, the BSP expects cash remittances to reach P23.6 billion, or a five percent growth.