Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas rebounded 5.5 percent in May to $2.310 billion from $2.188 billion a year ago, on sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Monday.
“This was boosted by the remittances from land-based [at $1.8 billion] and sea-based [$0.5 billion] workers, representing 6.2 percent and 3 percent increase, respectively,” Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said in a statement.
The 5.5-percent growth in May offset the 5.9-percent decline in April 2017. This brought cash remittances in the first five months to $11.346 billion, up 4.5 percent from $10.859 billion registered a year ago.
The primary contributors to the growth in May remittances were the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also rose 7.1 percent in May to $2.588 billion from $2.416 billion in the same month last year. This expansion was also a turnaround from the 5.2-percent decline in April.
This brought personal remittances in the first five months to $12.613 billion, up 5.2 percent from $11.993 billion a year earlier.
Bangko Sentral is keeping a conservative 4-percent growth target for remittances this year amid the improving trade and rosy outlook for the global economy.
Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the 4-percent expansion would translate into a record $28 billion remittances this year from $26.9 billion posted in 2016.
Remittances together with business process outsourcing receipts account for around $50-billion inflows annually and have been the source of the country’s strong external payments position.
The $26.9 billion total value of remittances last year accounted for around 10 percent of GDP, which grew 6.9 percent in 2016, one of the fastest in the region.
Guinigundo said “global growth this year is seen at 3.5 percent, higher than the 3.1 percent in 2016.”
Remittances sank 5.9 percent in April to $2.083 billion from $2.213 billion a year ago, driven by the depreciation of major host countries’ currencies vis-à-vis the US dollar.
The 5.9-percent drop in the value of remittances in April was the biggest on a monthly basis in 17 months or since it declined 6.2 percent in November 2015.
DBS Bank of Singapore said in a report remittances remained strong this year despite earlier concerns about domestic policies taking shape in 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.