Remittances from overseas Filipino workers grew at a slower pace in March after a hefty expansion a month earlier, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed on Monday.
Personal remittances—representing overseas Filipinos’ earnings, personal transfers in cash or in kind, and capital transfers between households—grew by 1.4 percent to $2.676 billion from $2.640 billion a year earlier.
Personal remittances also expanded from $2.334 billion posted in February. February’s growth rate of 9 percent was the highest in eight months since June 2015’s 10.5 percent.
Cash remittances—money sent through banks—also grew 1.5 percent in March to $2.425 billion from $2.390 billion in March 2015.
Month-on-month, funds coursed through banks rose from $2.110 billion in February.
In the first quarter, personal remittances were up 4.3 percent to $7.244 billion, the central bank reported. The growth was slower than the 6.1 percent recorded in February.
Funds coursed through banks for the January to March period also saw growth slowing to 4.4 percent, from 6.2 percent in the same period a year earlier, to $6.558 billion.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Japan, Qatar and Kuwait were again the major sources of cash remittances.
“The steady demand of overseas Filipino workers remained a key driver to the growth of remittance inflows,” the central bank said in a statement.
The central bank cited preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showing that 585,688 contracts were processed at end-March 2016, of which, 452,722 were for land-based workers.
“Likewise, the initiatives of banks and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage through tie-ups abroad and innovations in financial products in the remittance markets have facilitated the broader capture of remittances through formal channels,” the BSP said.
In the three months to March, the BSP said commercial banks’ established tie-ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks and branches/representative offices abroad reached 5,524 from 4,840 in the comparable period last year.
In 2015, remittances rose to a record high of $28.483 billion. This year, the central bank is projecting a 4.0 percent growth in remittances.