2018 remittances hit all-time high
Dollars sent home to their local beneficiaries by expatriate Filipinos hit an all-time high in 2018, thanks to the growing volume of remittances from both short- and long-term workers abroad, the central bank said on Friday.
In a statement, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said personal remittances from overseas Filipinos registered a new record high of $3.2 billion in December 2018, higher by 3.6 percent compared to the level posted in the same month of the previous year.
More importantly, personal remittances grew by 3 percent year-on-year to reach $32.2 billion for the entire 2018—the highest annual level to date.
“The growth in personal remittances during the year was driven by remittance inflows from land-based overseas Filipinos with work contracts of one year or more and remittances from both sea-based and land-based overseas Filipinos with work contracts of less than one year, which rose annually by 2.8 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively,” Espenilla said.
As the central bank no longer provides data on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers, as it did in the past, it was unclear whether the rise in remittances was due to higher wages being paid to the country’s expatriates or a greater number of them leaving for abroad.
The BSP said personal remittances were a major driver of domestic consumption and, in 2018, accounted for 9.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 8.1 percent of the gross national income.
Similarly, December 2018’s level of cash remittances— which counted only wages sent home by expatriate workers and excluded funds sent home by non-OFW Filipinos—also grew by 3.9 percent year-on-year to reach an all-time high of $2.8 billion.
The countries that contributed most to the increase during the month were the United States and Canada.
Full year cash remittances registered a 3.1 percent growth to reach $28.9 billion.
“The growth in cash remittances was supported by the transfers from both land-based and sea-based overseas Filipino workers, which grew by 2.8 percent and 4.6 percent from last year’s levels, respectively,” Espenilla said.
Cash remittances in 2018 remained strong amid political uncertainties across the globe. This was evident in Asia, the Americas and Europe, which grew annually by 12.3 percent, 9.7 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.
The growth in these regions made up for the 15.3-percent decrease in remittances from the Middle East (partly due to the continued repatriation program of the government).
By country source, the bulk of cash remittances for the year came from the US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Canada, Germany and Hong Kong.
Cash remittances from these countries accounted for almost 79 percent of total cash remittances.