Remittances grew 3.2 percent in March, its fastest pace this year following a slowdown in February triggered by the re-imposition of restrictions here and abroad amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show.
Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas reached $2.594 billion in March, up from $2.514 billion a year ago. The March expansion was the fastest in three months since the 3.3-percent growth in December 2021. It followed the slower 1.3-percent growth in February.
“The expansion in cash remittances was due to the growth in receipts from land-based and sea-based workers, which increased by 3.7 percent [to $2.021 billion from $1.948 billion] and 1.3 percent [to $573 million from $566 million], respectively,” the BSP said in a statement.
The figures brought cash remittances in the first quarter to $7.771 billion, up 2.4 percent from $7.593 billion a year earlier.
“The growth in cash remittances from the United States, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia contributed largely to the increase in remittances in the first quarter of 2022,” the BSP said.
The US registered the highest share of overall remittances at 41.5 percent in the first three months, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Taiwan, Qatar and Malaysia.
The combined remittances from top 10 countries accounted for 79.1 percent of total cash remittances during the period.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, rose 3.1 percent in March to $2.888 billion from $2.801 billion in the same month last year. This resulted in a 2.3-percent growth in the first-quarter personal remittances to $8.646 billion from $8.454 billion a year ago.
“The increase in personal remittances in March was due to remittances sent by land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, which grew by 3.7 percent to $2.195 billion from $2.116 billion in the same month last year, and sea- and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year, which increased by 1.4 percent to $625 million from $616 million a year ago,” the BSP said.
Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael Ricafort said further re-opening and recovery of many economies worldwide towards greater normalcy, especially OFW host countries and developed countries that move closer to herd immunity, fundamentally led to more OFW employment.
“OFW remittances could improve further in the coming months that support the country’s economic recovery prospects from COVID-19, as the global economic recovery would still improve further as more countries, especially those that host large numbers of OFWs, around the world would reach herd immunity in the coming months, fundamentally entailing the creation of more job opportunities for OFWs,” Ricafort said.
Remittances hit a record $31.418 billion in 2021, up 5.1 percent from $29.903 billion in 2021. The BSP forecasts remittances to grow 4 percent in 2022, consistent with long-term growth trend.