Remittances in August jumped 16.3% to $2.3B
Cash sent home by Filipinos living and working abroad in August grew at its fastest pace in over two years, jumping 16.3 percent year-on-year to $2.319 billion.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data released Monday showed that cash remittances from Filipinos overseas last August increased from $1.994 billion a year ago, marking the fastest yearly growth since March 2014’s 16.6 percent.
So far this year, the remittance flows in August were the third biggest on a monthly basis, only exceeded by March’s $2.362 billion and June’s $2.332 billion.
“The rebound validates that the recent slip in remittances was a mere reporting issue and the shift in school year calendar, causing year-on-year numbers to shift from weakness to gains to contraction back to gains as seasonality is adjusting,” Bank of the Philippine Islands associate economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said in a note to clients.
At the end of the first eight months, cash remittances totaled $17.642 billion, up 4.6 percent from $16.868 billion as of end-August last year.
Year-to-date remittance growth improved at end-August compared with 3 percent as of July, although slower than the 6.6-percent increase a year ago.
“Cash remittances from land-based workers rose by 6.5 percent to $13.1 billion while that of sea-based workers fell moderately by 1.9 percent to reach $3.8 billion” from January to August, BSP Deputy Governor and officer-in-charge Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said in a statement.
Four-fifths of end-August cash remittances were from Filipinos in the following countries: Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, Espenilla added.
“The school year shift forced the migration of remittances usually sent in one month to the next month with classes shifting opening schedules. The year-to-date growth rates remain on track, up 4.6 percent, after the rebound in August. For the next few months, we will continue to see remittance numbers vacillate from month to month but the year-to-date growth numbers are expected to remain in decent growth ranges. Also expect sourcing of remittances to shift as the BSP is better able to vet which remittances are sourced from which domicile,” Mapa said.
“Peso growth of remittances jumped a whopping 20.7 percent, which will translate to a surge in purchasing power to drive the consumption and investment growth of the Philippine growth engine in the third quarter,” Mapa added.
In a separate statement, ING Bank regional chief economist Tim Condon said they expect full-year remittance growth this year at 3.4 percent, slower than 2015’s 4 percent as well as the 7.3-percent annualized average in 2009-2014.
“An estimated $1-billion positive swing in remittances wouldn’t suffice to prevent an estimated $11.6-billion negative swing in the trade deficit from producing a current account deficit,” Condon added.
For the rest of the year, “we may see a slower pace in the growth of remittances toward yearend as overseas Filipinos adjust dollar wire transfers given the weaker peso,” Mapa said.
In a recent report, the World Bank said the Philippines was “likely to see the slowest remittance expansion in the past decade, to 2.2 percent, reflecting a decline in overseas worker deployments.”
The World Bank’s forecast was lower than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ 4 percent.
World Bank data nonetheless showed that the Philippines was expected to receive the third biggest remittance flows, an estimated $29.1 billion by yearend, after India’s $65.5 billion and China’s $65.2 billion.
Across low- and middle-income countries, the World Bank expects remittance flows to total $442 billion in 2016, a mere 0.8-percent higher than last year’s $438.6 billion.
The World Bank said cheap oil and de-risking were to blame for slowing remittances globally.
“Low oil prices continued to be a factor in reduced remittance flows from Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. In addition, structural factors have also played a role in dampening remittances growth. Antimoney laundering efforts have prompted banks to close down accounts of money transfer operators, diverting activity to informal channels. Policies favoring employment of nationals over migrant workers have discouraged demand for migrant workers in the GCC countries,” the World Bank said.
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