MONEY sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) hit a record high in December, allowing full-year growth to top the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) forecast for 2017.
Personal remittances totaled P3 billion for the month, up 7.9 percent from a year earlier. It brought the 2017 result to $31.3 billion, which was 5.3 percent higher compared to the prior year and also topped the central bank’s 4.0-percent projection.
“The sustained growth in personal remittances during the year was steered by the increase in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more (by 4.1 percent) and from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year (by 5.3 percent),” the central bank said in a statement.
Personal remittances sum up the net compensation of OFWs, personal transfers whether in cash or in kind and also capital transfers between households.
Last year’s personal remittances result, the BSP said, accounted for 10 percent of gross domestic product and 8.3 percent of gross national income.
“The growth in OF remittances continued to provide support to the country’s economy as a major driver of domestic demand,” the central bank said.
Cash remittances, which only count money coursed through banks, similarly reached a record high of $2.7 billion, 7.1 percent higher year-on-year. The full-year tally subsequently grew by 4.3 percent to $28.1 billion.
“The higher cash remittances in 2017 was supported by the increase in transfers from both land-based and sea-based workers by 4.0 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively,” the central bank said.
The United States, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore were the top sources of cash remittances and the BSP said flows “remained resilient … notwithstanding pockets of political uncertainties across the globe.”
The UAE, Qatar and Bahrain backstopped 3.4-percent growth in the Middle East while Singapore, Japan and Taiwan were behind the 7.3-percent rise for Asia. The Americas, meanwhile, saw growth of 5.8 percent.
Europe also recorded cash remittance growth of 1.5 percent despite a decline in the United Kingdom that was traced to the depreciation of the pound versus the US dollar.
By country, the bulk of cash remittances for 2017 came from the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany and Hong Kong, which accounted for 80.1 percent of the total.