Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas increased 1.5 percent in February to $2.3 billion from $2.27 billion a year ago, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Monday.
Data showed the 1.5-percent expansion was the slowest in six months since the 0.9-percent decline in August 2018.
The amount brought cash remittances coursed through banks to $4.78 billion in the two-month period, an increase of 3 percent from $4.65 billion recorded in the same period last year.
“This growth was supported by the increase in remittances from both land-based [$3.73 billion] and sea-based [$1.06 billion] workers, which rose by 1.0 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively,” Diokno said in a statement.
The United States was the top source of remittances in the period at 35.5 percent of the total. It was followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Canada, Qatar, Hong Kong, and Germany.
The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 77.3 percent of the total in the two-month period.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also rose 1.2 percent in February to $2.56 billion from $2.53 billion in February 2018. This brought the cumulative remittances in the first two months to $5.30 billion, up 2.3 percent year-on-year.
Personal remittances from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year rose 8.5 percent to $570 million in February 2019 from $530 million in February 2018.
“This compensated for the 0.43-percent decline in the personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, to $1.93 billion from $1.94 billion,” Diokno said.
ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said despite the slower growth in February, overseas Filipino remittance flows remained at a healthy pace.
“Last year saw OF remittances hit $28.94 billion, assuring a fresh inflow of more or less $2.4 billion every month, like clockwork. The steady stream of dollars help fund peso purchasing power, almost assuring that household consumption continues, while also augmenting the sustained struggles of the export sector,” Mapa said.
He said the proliferation of the BPO call center industry also “delivered yet another ace up the Philippine external sleeve, with net BPO receipts totaling $10.4 billion in 2018, a growth of roughly 21 percent from the year before,” Mapa said.
Cash remittances reached a record $28.943 billion in 2018, up 3.1 percent from $28.06 billion in 2017.
Bangko Sentral said cash remittances in 2018 remained strong despite the political uncertainties across the globe.
The BSP expects remittances to post a conservative 3-percent growth in 2019.