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OFW remittances up 1.9% in May

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. attributed the increase in cash remittances to the strong demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Money sent home by Filipinos overseas to their loved ones in the Philippines reached $2.19 billion in May, up 1.9 percent from $2.15 billion in the same period last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

Last month’s growth was slower than the 4.1-percent increase registered in April as well as the full-year growth target of four percent.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. attributed the increase in cash remittances to the strong demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad.

“The steady deployment of overseas Filipino workers remained a key driver behind the sustained inflow of remittances,” he said.

For the first five months, cash remittances grew 2.9 percent to $10.86 billion from $10.55 billion in the same period last year. Remittances from land-based Filipino workers reached $6.8 billion, while sea-based workers contributed $2.4 billion from January to May.

The BSP chief pointed out 80 percent of cash remittances came from the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Germany.

Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) indicated that a total of 211,799 Filipino workers were deployed mostly to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Taiwan and Hong Kong in the first five months.

More than 80 percent of the deployed Filipino workers were in services and sales, elementary occupations such as those working in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, construction, manufacturing, transport, as well as craft and related trades.

Tetangco said the additional demand for Filipino nurses in Japan and Germany would support the continued inflow of remittances.

Personal remittances rose 1.8 percent to $2.42 billion in May from $2.37 billion in the same month last year, bringing the growth in the first five months to 2.7 percent to $11.99 billion from $11.67 billion.

Personal remittance is computed as the sum of gross earnings of overseas Filipino workers with work contracts of less than one year, including all sea-based workers, less taxes, social contributions, and transportation and travel expenditures in their host countries.

Data showed personal remittance flows consisted primarily of transfers from land-based workers with contracts of one year or more reached $9.2 billion as well as compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts reaching $2.6 billion.

Last year, cash remittances went up 4.6 percent to a record $25.77 billion from $24.63 billion in 2014 amid the strong demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad.

For this year, remittances are expected to increase by four percent on account of the steady deployment of Filipino workers, greater diversification of country destinations, and shift to higher-skilled types of work.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said the deployment of higher skilled Filipinos abroad would continue to support a modest growth not only this year but in the coming years.

Cuyegkeng sees remittances inching up by three percent and the revenues of the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector growing by 16 percent for a combined inflow of $47.3 billion this year.

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