Dollar remittances of expat Filipinos fell for 2nd straight month in April
MANILA, Philippines – Dollars sent home by expatriate Filipinos declined once more in April, marking the second consecutive period that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was manifested in monthly remittances — a key pillar of the Philippine economy.
In a statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas attributed this drop to broad labor cutbacks overseas and the resulting return to the country of thousands of Filipino workers working as land- and sea-based jobs.
Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos amounted to $2.276 billion in April 2020, which was 16.1 percent lower than the $2.713 billion recorded in April 2019.
“The decline in cash remittances was attributed to the unexpected repatriation of some overseas Filipinos deployed in countries heavily affected by the pandemic, and temporary closure or limited operating hours of some banks and institutions from both the sending and receiving ends that provide money transfer services during the lockdown,” the central bank said.
The lower remittances first manifested itself in March due mostly to labor cutbacks in petroleum-producing countries — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait — where demand for workers was affected by depressed oil prices in the world market.
The latest figures brought the cumulative remittances for the first four months of the year to $10.494 billion, a slight decrease of 2.9 percent from the $ 10.811 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2019.
Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more declined to $1.677 billion in April 2020, or 17.9 percent lower than US$2.043 billion recorded in April 2019.
Similarly, remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year fell by 10.2 percent to $547 million in April 2020 from $609 million a year ago.
Overseas Filipino cash remittances that are coursed through banks declined by 16.2 percent to $2.046 billion in April 2020 from $2.441 billion in April 2019.
For the January–April 2020 period, cash remittances amounted to $9.448 billion, 3 percent lower than the $9.739 billion registered in the comparative period last year.
This developed as remittances of both land-based and sea-based workers, fell by 3.5 percent to $7.335 billion from $7.597 billion, and 1.3 percent to $2.114 billion from $2.142 billion, respectively.
By country source, the United States registered the highest share to total overseas Filipino remittances at 39.6 percent for January–April 2020. It was followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar, Hong Kong and Korea.
The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 79.1 percent of total cash remittances.
The central bank had earlier warned that expatriate Filipino remittances will contract for the first time in almost two decades — estimated at shrinkage of 3 percent by the end of this year — due to laborer repatriations caused by the pandemic, but will likely see a 4-percent rebound next year. [ac]
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