Remittances breached projections and hit an all-time high in 2012 as global demand for Filipino workers remained robust despite the general weakness in the global economy.
Money sent home by overseas-based Filipinos was credited for fueling the consumption of many Filipino households that, in turn, was credited for helping boost economic growth.
Remittances for the whole of 2012 reached a record $21.39 billion, an increase of 6.3 percent from $20.12 billion in 2011.
For the month of December, remittances amounted to $1.98 billion—the highest monthly record—up 9.7 percent from $1.8 billion in the same month of the previous year.
The BSP said the growth in remittances was driven both by money sent by land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with work contracts of a year or more as well as sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts.
Remittances last year came mostly from Filipinos in the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
“The resilience of overseas Filipino remittances continues to support the country’s economic growth and development,” the BSP said in a statement. “Remittances continue to draw strength from the increasing demand for a wider range of skilled Filipino workers abroad, mostly in the Middle East.”
Citing reports from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the BSP said the number of Filipinos whose contracts for work abroad had been processed reached 1.74 million in the first 10 months of 2012, up from 1.6 million in the same period of 2011.
Officials said government efforts to look for alternative markets for Filipino workers helped keep remittances growing even as some labor markets, led by the United States and those from the euro zone, struggled with their economic problems.
Remittances also grew because of the increasing share of professionals in the total number of OFWs.
The BSP said the move of some banks to expand their presence in overseas markets also helped encourage more OFWs to send money to their beneficiaries. Banks were expanding offshore through the establishment of branches and tie-ups with foreign financial institutions.
According to the BSP, remittance centers, correspondent banks and representative offices abroad of Philippine commercial banks increased to 4,750 in 2012 from 4,723 the previous year.