Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas jumped 9.1 percent in February from a year ago, the fastest growth in eight months, despite the oil price slump that displaced hundreds of workers in the Middle East.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said remittances in February reached $2.11 billion, up from $1.935 billion a year ago and $2 billion in January.
This brought cash remittances in the first two months of 2016 to $4.133 billion, a 6.2-percent increase from $3.89 billion in the same period last year.
Data showed cash transfers from both land-based ($3.2 billion) and sea-based ($917 million) workers rose 6.9 percent and 3.7 percent year-on-year, respectively.
The last time cash remittances grew higher than 9 percent was in June 2015, when the year-on-year increase reached 10.9 percent.
Most cash remittances came from the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Qatar.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also expanded 9 percent in February to $2.33 billion from $2.14 billion a year earlier, also an eight-month high.
This brought total personal remittances in the first two months to $4.56 billion, up by 6.1 percent from $4.3 billion a year ago.
“Personal remittances continued to draw strength from the steady rise in transfers from land-based overseas workers with work contracts of one year or more which reached $3.5 billion, as well as compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts which totaled $1 billion,” Bangko Sentral said.
The steady deployment of overseas workers remained a key driver to the growth of remittance inflows. Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed that 31.6 percent of the 160,277 total job orders were intended to fill in demand for service, production, and professional, technical and related workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.
Cash remittances grew 4.6 percent in 2015 to a record $25.767 billion from $24.628 billion in 2014, surpassing the 4-percent growth projection of Bangko Sentral.
Personal remittances also increased by 4.4 percent last year to $28.483 billion from $27.273 billion in 2014.
Remittances fuel private consumption and serve as a backbone of economic growth. Bangko Sentral was looking at a four-percent growth in remittances in 2016.
Global debt watcher Moody’s Investors Service earlier said remittances to Asian countries would be affected by the oil price slump in the Middle East this year.
Moody’s, however, said the diversified locations of overseas Filipino workers would ease the impact of the slump in oil prices that hurt mostly Middle East countries.