Remittances up at $7.6 B in Q1

Published May 17, 2021, 4:53 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Cash remittances or fund transfers sent via the banking system reached $7.593 billion as of end-March, up by 2.6 percent year-on-year or from $7.403 billion, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Monday.

“This is the second consecutive month that remittances were higher than last year’s levels, reflecting mainly the easing of travel restrictions, re-opening of borders to foreign workers, and progress in COVID-19 vaccine roll out in many advanced countries,” said the BSP.

For the month of March only, cash remittances rose by 4.9 percent to $2.514 billion compared to $2.397 billion same time in 2020.

(Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

The BSP said cash remittances from land-based workers of $1.948 billion was five percent higher than the previous year. Sea-based workers’ cash remittances also rose by 4.5 percent year-on-year to $566 million.

“The growth in cash remittances for January to March 2021 came largely from the US, Malaysia, and Singapore,” noted the BSP. About 78.2 percent of remittances were sourced from 10 countries which also includes Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar and Taiwan.

The US accounted for 40.8 percent of overall remittances because of a common practice of using correspondent banks based in the US which are recorded as remittances coming from the US and not from its origin source outside of the US.

The BSP also reported that as of end-March, personal remittances reached $8.454 billion, up by 5.6 percent year-on-year or from $8.218 billion.

For March alone, personal remittances increased by 5.6 percent to $2.801 billion from $2.652 billion same time last year.

Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more went up by five percent to $2.115 billion from $2.014 billion for the month of March. Remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year, in the meantime, rose by 4.5 percent to $617 million versus $591 million in 2020.

By International Monetary Fund definition, personal remittances is the sum of personal transfers and compensation of employees. It includes personal transfers which are all current transfers in cash or in kind between resident and nonresident individuals, independent of the source of income of the sender. Compensation of employees, on the other hand, is the income of border, seasonal, and other short-term workers who are employed in an economy where they are not resident and of residents employed by nonresident entities.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, cash remittances declined by 0.8 percent year-on-year to $29.903 billion while personal remittances also fell by 0.8 percent to $33.194 billion.

For this year, the BSP expects remittances to recover and to return to its annual growth of four percent which was its usual growth projection for bank-transferred remittances before the global pandemic.