Remittances posted a strong start to 2018 with Filipinos working abroad sending home a total of $2.65 billion in January, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Thursday.
The result was up 10.8 percent from a year earlier, central bank data showed, beating the 7.9-percent expansion seen in December when personal remittances hit a record P3 billion.
The growth in personal remittances, which sum up the net compensation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), personal transfers whether in cash or in kind and also capital transfers between households, was driven by an 8.4-percent uptick — to $2.1 billion — in money sent home by land-based workers with contracts of one year or more.
Cash remittances, which only count funds sent via banks, expanded by 9.7 percent to $2.38 billion. It also beat a bank’s expectations of a slowdown to 5.1 percent.
Security Bank Corp. economist and Assistant Vice-President Angelo Taningco said OFWs likely sent more dollars home as the peso had weakened.“However, the high base resulting from December’s holiday season has led the January amount to be lower,” he said.
The central bank reported that cash remittances from both land-based ($1.9 billion) and sea-based ($0.5 billion) workers increased by 8.4 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively.
Money sent from the United States, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Japan, Qatar, Canada, Kuwait, and Germany comprised more than 80 percent of total cash remittances.
The US, Canada, Singapore and the UAE were the major contributors to the growth for the month.
Remittances from the United States, in particular, grew by 14.3 percent, contributing 4.6 percentage points to the overall 9.7 percent growth.
“Remittance performance in January was a good start,” Security Bank’s Taningco said, “and is consistent with our view … [of]a faster remittance year compared to last year despite [an]OFW deployment ban on certain countries.”
The bank’s full-year 2018 cash remittance growth forecast remains unchanged at 5 percent, he added.
Banking giant HSBC, which had forecast the 5.1-percent slowdown, also expects remittances to pick up this year to around 5 percent.
Concerns of a remittance drop have been raised after President Rodrigo Duterte last month imposed a total ban on deployment to Kuwait — one of the biggest OFW markets — following the murder of a Filipina domestic helper.
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