By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN
Remittances sent home by overseas Filipinos in 2019 increased by 4.1 percent year-on-year to $30.13 billion from $28.94 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.
These are cash remittances or fund transfers captured by the banking system and therefore easily monitored by the BSP. The 4.1 percent remittances growth is more than the BSP’s three percent projection for 2019. It is also higher than 2018’s 3.1 percent increase over 2017’s $28.06 billion.
The BSP said “much of the remittances from overseas Filipinos were in the form of cash that were coursed through the banks.” It said the cash remittances of land-based workers increased by 3.5 percent to $23.60 billion in 2019 while sea-based workers’ remittances grew by 6.5 percent to $6.5 billion.
According to the BSP: “Notwithstanding pockets of political uncertainties across the globe, cash remittances in 2019 remained strong. This is evident in inward remittances from Asia, the Americas, and Africa, where inflows grew annually by 12.3 percent, 10.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.”
The BSP added that the “growth of inflows in these regions more than made up for the 9.8 percent decline in remittances from the Middle East.”
The biggest remittances source is still the US but the caveat, in interpreting this data, is that since remittance centers have correspondent banks mostly located in the US it will naturally show a huge amount of remittances activity. The US accounted for 37.6 percent of total remittances.
Other major sources are Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, and Kuwait. “Remittances from these countries accounted for 78.4 percent of total cash remittances during the period,” said the BSP.
For the month of December only, cash remittances totaled $2.90 billion, up 1.9 percent year-on-year.
The central bank also monitor personal remittances which before was simply referred to as remittances via the “padala” system. The BSP defines personal remittances as the “sum of net compensation of employees (gross earnings of overseas Filipino workers) with work contracts of less than one year” and includes personal transfers and capital transfers between households.
Last year, personal remittances grew by 3.9 percent to $33.47 billion from $32.21 billion. For December only, the total is $3.22 billion, up 1.9 percent year-on-year.