PERSONAL Remittances by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in April rose 5.2 percent from a year earlier, with demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad remaining robust, according to the central bank.
However, the pace of growth reflected a slowdown from the 7.9 percent clip recorded in April 2013 and the 6.9 percent increase posted in March this year.
Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday showed remittances in April breached the $2-billion mark and reached $2.12 billion. The amount rose from $2.01 billion received into the country in the same month in 2013, as well as the $2.08 billion posted in March 2014.
Personal remittances consist of the net compensation for OFWs, personal transfers such as current transfers in cash or in kind, 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 (5 percent) and sea-based and land-based workers with short-term contracts (8.3 percent).
The April personal remittances figure brought the cumulative amount of remittances for the first four months of the year to $8.20 billion, up from $7.72 billion in the comparative period in 2013.
Cash remittances, or those coursed through banks, grew 5.2 percent year-on-year to $1.9 billion in April from $1.81 billion a year earlier.
Cash remittances for the four-month period increased to $7.4 billion, or 5.8 percent higher than the amount sent in the same period last year.
The BSP noted that cash remittances from land-based ($5.6 billion) and sea-based ($1.8 billion) workers rose by 5 percent and 8.3 percent year-on-year, respectively, during the January to April 2014 period.
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 for the period in review.
“Remittance flows remained robust on the back of sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers,” the central bank said.
The BSP also noted that preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed that in the first four months of 2014, approved job orders totaled 319,888.
Of the total job orders, 24.9 percent were processed job orders intended for service, production, and professional, technical and related workers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Kuwait, and Qatar.
“The continued expansion of the network of banks and non-bank service providers and innovations in financial products in the remittance market have likewise provided for the wider capture of fund transfers through formal channels, facilitating the increased inflows of cash remittances,” the central bank added.
In 2013, personal remittances reached $23.35 billion. This year, the BSP expects cash remittances to reach P23.6 billion, or 5 percent higher than the year-earlier level.