Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas fell 5.9 percent in April from a year ago, representing the biggest drop in 17 months, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Thursday.
Data from Bangko Sentral showed that remittances declined to $2.083 billion in April from $2.213 billion in the same month last year because of the movement of foreign exchange.
This was the biggest drop in the value of remittances since the 6.2-percent decline registered in November 2015, data showed.
“This was attributed to the 7.6-percent drop in cash remittances from land-based workers which offset the marginal increase [0.3 percent] in transfers from sea-based workers. The top countries that registered declines in cash remittances in April were Saudi Arabia [partly as a result of repatriation of workers under the Saudi Arabian Amnesty program], followed by Singapore, Australia, and United Kingdom,” Bangko Sentral said.
“Aside from recorded declines in cash remittances [in original currency] in these countries, the lower US dollar value of remittances in April could be partly due to the depreciation of major host countries’ currencies vis-à-vis the US dollar, such as the Singaporean dollar, Australian dollar, pound sterling and the euro,” it said.
Bangko Sentral said despite the lower inflows in April, total cash remittances in the first four months of 2017 still increased 4.2 percent to $9.036 billion from $8.670 billion in the same four-month period a year ago.
It said the decrease in remittances in April could also be attributed to the lesser number of banking days during the month compared to the same period a year ago.
Cash remittances from the US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan, UK, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Canada comprised about 80 percent of total cash remittances in the first four months.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, reached $2.317 billion in April, or 5.2 percent lower than $2.44 billion a year ago. This was personal remittances’ biggest drop on a monthly basis in nine months since it fell 5.4 percent decline in July 2016.
Personal remittances in the first four months reached $10.026 billion, up 4.7 percent from $9.57 billion a year ago.
DBS Bank of Singapore said in a note Thursday that remittances remained strong this year despite earlier concerns about domestic policiesin key host countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia.
“At the current pace, total foreign remittances are going to reach a new record of circa $28 billion this year,” DBS said.
Bangko Sentral earlier downplayed any significant impact on remittances from Qatar after seven neighboring Arab countries cut ties and closed their borders with the kingdom which was accused of supporting extremism.
Incoming Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said that monetary authorities would closely monitor the situation in the Middle East.
Espenilla said he remained optimistic about the growth outlook for remittances, as the deployment of skilled Filipinos was diverse all over the world and not concentrated on one region.
Total remittances grew 5 percent last year to a record $26.9 billion from $25.607 billion in 2015, driven by the sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad and improving global economic condition. This accounted for around 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.