PERSONAL remittances by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in May rose 5.5 percent from a year earlier on the back of sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad, the central bank said.
The pace of growth also reflected an increase from the 5.2 percent recorded in April this year.
Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday showed remittances in May remained above the $2-billion mark and reached $2.2 billion.
The amount rose from $2.1 billion received into the country in the same month in 2013, as well as the $2.12 billion posted in April 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 (8.1 percent).
The cumulative amount of remittances exceeded $10 billion in the first five months of the year.
January to May 2014 remittances reached $10.4 billion, up from $9.8 billion in the comparative period in 2013.
Cash remittances, or those coursed through banks, grew 5.4 percent year-on-year to $2 billion in May from $1.9 billion a year earlier.
Cash remittances for the five-month period increased to $9.4 billion, or 5.7 percent higher than the amount sent in the same period last year.
The BSP noted that cash remittances from land-based ($7.1 billion) and sea-based ($2.3 billion) workers rose by 5 percent and 8.1 percent year-on-year, respectively, during the five-month 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.
“The steady deployment of overseas Filipino workers remained a key driver in the sustained growth in remittance flows,” the central bank said.
The BSP also noted that preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed that in the first five months of 2014, approved job orders totaled 371,097.
Of the total job orders, 38.5 percent were processed job orders intended for service, production, and professional, technical and related employment in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Kuwait, and Qatar.
“The continued efforts of banks and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage through tie-ups and establishment of remittance centers abroad as well as the introduction of innovations in their remittance products provided support to the robust growth of remittances during the period,” the central bank added.
In 2013, personal remittances reached $23.35 billion. This year, the BSP expects cash remittances to reach P24.1 billion, or 5 percent higher than the year-earlier level.