Remittances at steady climb in March

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) rose 1.5 percent in March, hitting their highest level since December amid the steady demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said cash remittances from overseas Filipinos amounted to $2.42 billion in March, $35 million higher compared with $2.39 billion in the same month last year.

This was the highest level since the $2.47 billion booked in December.

For the first three months, cash remittances grew 4.4 percent to $6.56 billion from $6.28 billion in the same period last year.

Tetangco said remittances from land-based Filipino workers went up 5.3 percent to $5.1 billion, while remittances from sea-based workers increased 1.5 percent to $1.4 billion in the first quarter of the year.

The BSP chief said more than 75 percent of the cash remittances came from the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Japan, Qatar, and Kuwait.

The steady demand for overseas Filipino workers remained a key driver to the growth of remittance inflows,” he said.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed total processed contracts reached 585,688 in the first three months. Of the total number, about 452,722 were for land-based workers.

The POEA processed 2.3 million contracts in 2015.

Tetangco also cited the efforts of bank and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage through their network of remittance business partners worldwide also provided support to steady remittance flows.

Data showed the number of tie-ups among commercial banks, remittance centers, correspondent banks as well as branches or representative offices grew to 5,524 in the first quarter from 4,840 in the same quarter last year.

On the other hand, personal remittances also inched up 1.4 percent to $2.67 billion in March from $2.64 billion in the same month last year.

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.

In all, personal remittances went up by 4.3 percent to $7.24 billion in the first quarter  from $6.95 billion in the same quarter last year.

Tetangco said personal remittance flows consisting primarily of transfers from land-based workers with contracts of one year or more reached $5.6 billion while compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts reached $1.6 billion.

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.

Remittances from more than 10 million Filipinos working abroad account for 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This helps boost private consumption resulting in faster economic growth.

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