Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas dropped 2.9 percent to a nine-month low of $2.29 billion in June from $2.357 billion a year ago amid lower inflows from Saudi Arabia, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Thursday.
It was the first time that remittances decreased in 10 months. Despite the decline, cash remittances in the first half reached $14.638 billion, up 3.2 percent from $14.179 billion a year ago.
Diokno said the decline in June remittances could be attributed to the 5.4-percent year-on-year drop in cash remittances from land-based workers which was mitigated by the 6.3-percent increase in transfers from sea-based workers. The countries that contributed to the decline in June were Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The US registered the highest share of overall remittances from January to June at 36.4 percent. It was followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany and Qatar.
The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 78 percent of total cash remittances for the first half.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also declined to a nine-month low of $2.545 billion in June, down by 2.7 percent from $2.615 billion in the same month last year.
This brought total personal remittances in the first half to $16.252 billion, up by 2.9 percent from $15.787 billion a year ago.
Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more grew by 1.8 percent to $12.4 billion in the first half from $12.2 billion in the same period last year.
Personal remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts increased 8.8 percent to $3.5 billion in the six-month period from $3.2 billion a year ago.
Remittances reached a record $28.9 billion in 2018, up 3.1 percent from $28.06 billion a year ago. It slightly surpassed the 3-percent growth target for the entire year.
The BSP said remittances in 2018 remained strong amid political uncertainties across the globe. This was evident in Asia, the Americas and Europe which grew annually by 12.3 percent, 9.7 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.
The bulk of cash remittances last year came from the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, Japan, the UK, Qatar, Canada, Germany and Hong Kong. Cash remittances from these countries accounted for almost 79 percent of the total.
The BSP expects remittances to post a conservative 3-percent growth in 2019.