OF cash remittances up 5.1% to $2.36 B in Feb.

Published April 15, 2021, 4:30 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Overseas Filipinos remitted $2.477 billion via banks in February, it’s 5.1 percent higher compared to same time last year of $2.358 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said Thursday, (April 15).

Compared to January, cash remittances was lower by 4.84 percent or from $2.603 billion.

(Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

For the first two months, bank-channelled remittances went up by 1.5 percent to $5.080 billion from $5.006 billion in 2020.

The BSP said cash remittances from land-based workers increased by 7.8 percent to $1.982 billion while sea-based workers’ fund transfers dell by 4.6 percent to $495 million. 

For the cumulative growth, the central bank said bulk of cash remittances came from the US, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The BSP said personal remittances which are personal transfers and capital transfers between households, in February rose by 5.3 percent to $2.761 billion from $2.623 billion same time in 2020.

 “The increase in personal remittances was attributed to the 7.8 percent growth in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more to $2.152 billion from the $1.997 billion recorded in February 2020,” the BSP noted. Remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year however fell by 4.6 percent to $540 million from $566 million.

For the first two months of the year, personal remittances increased by 1.6 percent to $5.655 billion versus US$5.566 billion in 2020.

The US registered the highest share at 41 percent in overall remittances for January to February, mainly because most correspondent banks used by remittance centers or facilities are located in the US.

Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Qatar were also top sources of remittances.

 “The combined remittances from these top ten countries accounted for 78.3 percent of total cash remittances,” said the BSP.

ING Bank economist Nicholas Mapa said the 5.1 percent cash remittances growth end-February was better than market expectations of a two percent growth for the period.

 “We can expect remittance flows to remain positive in the coming months. Upside gains for remittances however may be limited given the substantial drawdown in the stock of overseas Filipinos due to repatriation and the recent shutdowns experienced in select countries around the world,” said Mapa.

Mapa said the peso will continue to be supported by remittance flows. He said that for this year – “we expect remittance flows to adequately cover the more modest trade deficit, a development that should help lend appreciation pressure to the peso in the near term.

However, despite the boost to the currency, the impact of remittances on domestic consumption will likely be muted with the peso-equivalent of remittances actually down 3.6 percent for the year.”   Still, Mapa said the “modest positive growth” for remittances – and the BSP projects four percent growth for 2021 — will continue to prop up the local currency in the near term.