OFWs carry pandemic economic load, raise remittances in October
MANILA, Philippines—Dollars sent home by Filipinos abroad grew slightly in October as land-based contract workers sent more money to their local beneficiaries, narrowing the year-to-date annual decline caused by pandemic-related job losses.
In a statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said personal remittances from Filipinos overseas grew by 2.5 percent to $3.044 billion in October 2020 from $2.969 billion in October 2019.
“The growth was attributed to the increase in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more to $2.374 billion in October 2020, 3.3 percent higher than the $2.298 billion recorded in October 2019,” the regulator said.
Also, remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year rose slightly by 1.2 percent to $612 million in October 2020 from $605 million a year ago.
ING Bank Manila’s senior economist Nicholas Mapa said the country’s expatriate workforce “continue to prove doubters wrong, finding a way to send home their hard earned remittances despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.”
“The two month pickup is welcome as remittances augment weaker domestic incomes with the Philippine economy in full blown recession,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “The slower pace in remittance flows from the previous month may reflect the impact of renewed lockdowns imposed by authorities in host nations as Covid-19 infections spiked during period.”
“The fact that remittances continue to rise even after 300,000 [workers] were repatriated and the global economy faces recession is truly impressive and a testament to the grit and heart of our modern day heroes,” he added, but noted that the increase in remittances in dollar terms may mean that overseas workers are asked to bear the brunt of the local downturn.
For the first ten months of 2020, personal remittances reached $27.346 billion from the $27.612 billion recorded in 2019, bringing the cumulative contraction to 1 percent in October from 1.4 percent in September 2020.
Likewise, overseas Filipinos’ cash remittances that were coursed through banks rose by 2.9 percent to $2.747 billion in October 2020 from $2.671 billion in October 2019.
The cental bank said this increase was due to the growth in remittances from both land- ($2.186 billion) and sea-based ($561.2 million) workers by 3.3 percent and 1.2 percent.
For the January-October 2020 period, overseas Filipinos’ cash remittances amounted to $24.633 billion, representing a slight decrease of 0.9 percent from the $24.858 billion registered in the comparative period last year.
By country source, cash remittances from Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and Kuwait declined, while those from the United States, Singapore, Qatar, Oman, Hong Kong and Taiwan increased.
The US posted the highest share of the total remittances at 40.2 percent, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the UK, the UAE, Canada, Hong Kong, Qatar, and Taiwan. The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 78.7 percent of the total cash remittances.
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