Remittances through banks dip 3% in April

Published July 16, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Bank-transferred cash remittances dropped three percent as of end-April this year to $9.448 billion from same time last year of $9.739 billion.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said overseas Filipinos’ remittances — both land-based and sea-based workers — declined by 3.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Land-based remittances decreased to $7.335 billion from $7.597 billion while sea-based transfers slipped to $2.114 billion from $2.142 billion.

For the month of April alone, cash remittances that passed through the formal banking channels fell by 16.2 percent to $2.046 billion versus same time last year of $2.441 billion.

“The decline in cash remittances was attributed to the unexpected repatriation of some overseas Filipinos deployed in countries heavily affected by the pandemic, and temporary closure/limited operating hours of some banks and institutions from both the sending and receiving ends that provide money transfer services during the lockdown,” said the BSP.

The central bank said that based on country source, the US “registered the highest share to total remittances at 39.6 percent for January–April 2020 (and) followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar, Hong Kong, and Korea.” All these destinations accounted for 79.1 percent of total cash transfers during the period.

Personal remittances, in the meantime, dropped 2.9 percent year-on-year to $10.494 billion as of end-April.

The BSP said personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more declined to $1.677 billion in April . This is 17.9 percent lower than April 2019’s $2.043 billion.

As for remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year, this decreased by 10.2 percent year-on-year to $547 million.

For the month of April, personal remittances were down by 16.1 percent to $2.276 billion from $2.713 billion.

BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said for 2020, because of the health crisis which forced thousands of Overseas Filipinos to come home to the Philippines, they see remittances contracting by five percent.

For next year however, Diokno said the BSP expects remittances to bounce back by four percent.

The negative remittances growth for this year is mainly on account of the pandemic and the result of its containment and lockdown measures all over the world since March.

Diokno said the “large repatriation of workers and major economic disruptions in host countries” were the main culprit for the decline in remittances.

The BSP expects remittances to reach $28.6 billion this year and $29.8 billion in 2021.