By Lee C. Chipongian
Remittances transferred via the banking system amounted to $28.1 billion in 2017, up by 4.3 percent from what was reported in 2016, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said in a statement yesterday.
Personal remittances which includes household-to-household, current and capital transfers in cash or in kind, reached $31.3 billion last year. This was higher by 5.3 percent compared to 2016’s $29.7 billion and surpassing the BSP’s four percent projection for the year.
The solid growth of overseas Filipinos remittances is still a major driver of domestic demand. “The growth in overseas Filipinos remittances continued to provide support to the country’s economy as a major driver of domestic demand,” said the BSP chief. “The 2017 level of overseas Filipinos personal remittances accounted for 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 8.3 percent of gross national income (GNI).”
By country source, the BSP said the US, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany, and Hong Kong were top destinations for active remitters, accounting for 80.1 percent of total remittances that were captured by the banking sector.
For the month of December, cash remittances totaled $2.7 billion, more than 7.1 percent year-on-year. These funds mostly came from the US, UAE and Singapore, the leading three sources of cash remittances.
“The higher cash remittances in 2017 was supported by the increase in transfers from both land-based and sea-based workers by four percent and 5.4 percent, respectively,” the BSP said.
In the meantime, personal remittances were a new record high at $3 billion in December, it rose by 7.9 percent year-on-year.
According to the central bank, the sustained growth in personal remittances mostly came from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more which increased by 4.1 percent. Remittances from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year also increased by 5.3 percent during the period.
“Notwithstanding pockets of political uncertainties across the globe, cash remittances in 2017 remained resilient,” noted the BSP.
Remittances from the Middle East increased by 3.4 percent, driven by growth in remittances from the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain. Overseas Filipinos’ remittances from Asia rose by 7.3 percent, boosted by transfers originating from Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan, said the BSP.
“For the Americas, which increased by 5.8 percent, the major contributor was the 5.5 percent growth in remittances from the US. Despite the decrease in remittances coming from the UK (partly due to the depreciation of the pound sterling vis-à-vis the US dollar), remittances from Europe went up by 1.5 percent,” added the BSP.