REMITTANCES to the Philippines grew in March this year as more economies continued to recover from the economic effects of the global health crisis and as Filipino migrant workers sent more money back home, anxious about the impact on their families of renewed lockdowns.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Monday that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) cash remittances grew 4.9 percent in February to hit $2.514 billion during the month. This is higher than the $2.38-billion cash remittances sent in the same month last year and the $2.476-billion cash remittances sent in January
This is the second consecutive month this year that remittances went back to expansion mode after its 1.7-percent contraction in January. The BSP said the growth in remittances sent back home reflected mainly the “easing of travel restrictions, reopening of borders to foreign workers, and progress in Covid-19 vaccine rollout in many advanced countries.” Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) economist Michael Ricafort said the renewed lockdowns also compelled migrant workers to send more money to finance the needs of their families back home.
“Slower economic conditions, partly due to the recent tighter quarantine standards especially since the latter part of March 2021 and relatively higher inflation locally in recent months may have necessitated the sending of more OFW remittances to local dependents or beneficiaries,” Ricafort said.
Broken down, cash remittances from land-based workers increased by 5 percent to $1.948 billion during the month, while those from sea-based workers rose by 4.5 percent to $566 million in March.
For the first quarter, total remittances to the Philippines hit $7.93 billion, 2.6 percent higher than the $7.403 billion in the first three months of 2020.
The BSP said the growth in cash remittances for January to March this year came largely from the United States (US), Malaysia, and Singapore.
In terms of country sources, the US registered the highest share of overall remittances at 40.8 percent for the first three months, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
The combined remittances from these top 10 countries accounted for 78.2 percent of total cash remittances. Ricafort said remittances are still expected to rise in the coming months as lockdown measures in the country continue and global economic conditions recover.
The economist also said the appreciation of the peso could prompt OFWs to send more money in dollar terms. “Tighter quarantine restrictions in NCR Plus since the latter part of March 2021 amid new record high Covid-19 local cases recently could increase the need to send more OFW remittances especially to assist adversely affected OFW families/dependents in the country,” Ricafort said.
Image courtesy of Nonie Reyes
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