March remittances ease amid worker repatriations
Dollars sent home by expatriate Filipinos plunged by almost a tenth in March possibly due, in part, to the government’s decision to repatriate workers from the Middle East following reported abuses by their employers.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said total cash remittances by overseas workers fell by 9.8 percent to $2.4 billion last March. This was attributed to the 9.7-percent drop in cash remittances from land-based workers and 10.2-percent decrease in transfers from sea-based workers.
“The continued repatriation of overseas Filipino workers from the Middle East countries could have affected the inflows of cash remittances,” the BSP said in a statement Tuesday.
Preliminary data from the Department of Labor and Employment indicated that as of early February, 1,124 overseas workers were repatriated from Kuwait. More followed in later weeks.
But the same central bank data showed that the countries that registered the biggest declines in cash remittances in March were Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the US. The contraction during the month could be primarily due to base effect following the sharp increase in remittances in March last year by 10.7 percent.
“Further contributing to the decline was the lesser number of banking days in March 2018 compared to the same month in 2017 since the celebration of the Holy Week happened during the last week of March as opposed to April in 2017,” the BSP explained.
For the first three months of 2018, cash remittances from overseas Filipinos coursed through banks stood at $7 billion, a meager 0.8-percent growth from the same period a year ago.
Cash remittances sent by land-based workers and sea-based workers aggregated $5.6 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, also representing tepid growths of 0.4 percent and 2.3 percent.
Cash remittances coming from the US, UAE, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar, Germany and Hong Kong comprised 80.1 percent of total cash remittances in the first quarter of 2018, the central bank data showed.
Personal remittances represent the sum of net compensation of employees (i.e. gross earnings of overseas Filipino workers with work contracts of less than a year, including all sea-based workers, less taxes, social contributions and transportation and travel expenditures in their host countries), personal transfers (all current transfers in cash or in kind by workers with contracts of one year or more, as well as household-to-household transfers between Filipinos who have migrated abroad and their families in the Philippines) and capital transfers between resident and non-resident households without anything of economic value being supplied in return.
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