Remittances rose 9.3 percent in September from a year ago, the fastest growth in 29 months, as the economies hosting overseas Filipino workers gradually recovered from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show on Monday.
The BSP said cash remittances reached $2.601 billion in September, up from $2.379 billion a year ago and $2.483 billion in August.
The latest figure brought total remittances in the first nine months to $21.886 billion, down just 1.4 percent from $22.187 billion in the same period last year. Several economists earlier predicted a double-digit decline in money sent home by Filipinos working overseas because of the impact of the health crisis on the international labor market.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a message to reporters the 1.4-percent decline in the nine-month period was “better than the original forecast of 5-percent full-year drop made at the height of the onslaught of the pandemic. The 5-percent contraction target was later revised to -2 percent.
The increase in September remittances was due to the growth in remittances from both land-based ($2.031 billion) and sea-based ($570 million) workers, which increased by 10.2 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
Remittances from the United States, Singapore, Qatar, Hong Kong and Taiwan registered growth from January to September, while inflows from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Kuwait and the United Kingdom declined.
The US posted the highest share to total remittances at 40.1 percent, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the UK, the UAE, Canada, Hong Kong, Qatar and Taiwan. The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 78.8 percent of total cash remittances.
Meanwhile, personal remittances which include non-cash items, grew by 9.1 percent in September to $2.888 billion from $2.648 billion a year ago, also the fastest expansion since April 2018.
This brought the total personal remittances in the first nine months to $24.302 billion, down slightly from $24.643 billion a year earlier. At this level, the contraction in cumulative personal remittances narrowed to 1.4 percent from 2.6 percent in August.
Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more climbed 10.2 percent to $2.205 billion in September from $2.001 billion in the same month in 2019.
Remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year went up by 6.5 percent to $622 million in September from $584 million a year ago.
Cash remittances increased 4.1 percent in 2019 to reach an all-time high of $30.133 billion from $28.94 billion in 2019.
The BSP expects remittances to contract by 2 percent this year amid the global health crisis and rebound by 4 percent in 2021 on expectation that the pandemic would be over by that time.