The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas expects remittances from Filipinos working overseas to still grow 2 percent this year despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on working conditions globally.
“Our pre-COVID-19 pandemic forecast was that remittances will grow by 3 percent over last year’s level. Last March, with the emergence of the global health crisis, the BSP staff projects that OFW remittances would shrink by 0.2 to 0.8 percent from the original 3-percent growth forecast, hence the revised forecast is a range of 2.2 to 2.8 percent or a midpoint of 2.5 percent,” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said Friday after the release of the February remittance data.
Diokno said the BSP adopted an amended growth forecast of 2 percent to be on the conservative side.
“That’s BSP’s latest forecast. As you know the government has now allowed Filipino overseas workers to leave the country, except health workers, who are most needed at home,” Diokno said.
Remittances grew 2.5 percent in February to $2.36 billion from $2.301 billion a year ago while countries were bracing for the global impact of the pandemic. The February expansion was slower than the 6.6-percent growth posted in January.
This brought the total cash remittances in the first two months to $5.006 billion, up 4.6 percent from $4.784 billion in the same period last year.
The United States registered the highest share to overall remittances at 39 percent. It was followed by Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Canada, Hong Kong and Korea.
Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also grew by 2.6 percent in February to $2.623 billion from $2.557 billion a year earlier, fueled by sustained inflows from land-based Filipino workers.
Personal remittances rose 5 percent in the first two months to $5.566 billion from the previous year’s level of $5.302 billion.
Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more rose 3.5 percent in February to $2 billion from $1.9 billion recorded in February 2019.
Meanwhile, remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year declined by 0.9 percent to $560 million from $570 million from a year ago.
Diokno earlier said remittances growth this year would be negatively impacted by the pandemic because hundreds of OFWs were repatriated in the past months from host countries highly affected by COVID-19.