MANILA, February 15, 2018–Despite the sad stories about overseas Filipino workers in some Middle Eastern countries, foreign remittances for 2017 reached US$ 31.3 billion or 5.3 percent higher than the US$ 29.7 billion level in 2016 and exceeded projections by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas of 4.0 percent for the last year.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said in a statement Thursday afternoon, foreign remittances for December amounted to US$ 3.0 billion which manifested an expansion of 7.9 percent from figures in December 2016.
The increase in remittances came from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more (4.1 percent) and from sea-based and land-based workers with contracts of less than one year (5.3 percent).
“The growth in overseas Filipinos’ remittances continued to provide support to the country’s economy, being a major driver of domestic demand,” Governor Espenilla said.
It was learned that the 2017 level of overseas Filipinos’ personal remitances accounted for 10.0 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 8.3 percent of gross national income (GNI).
Cash remittances coursed through banks from overseas Filipinos registered an all-time high of US$2.7 billion, rising by 7.1 percent year-on-year in December 2017.
The top countries that contributed to the increase in total cash remittances last December were the United States (US), United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Singapore.
Full-year cash remittances amounted to US$ 28.1 billion or 4.3 percent higher than the US$ 26.9 billion in 2016. The higher cash remittances in 2017 was supported by the increase in transfers from both land-based workers (4.0 percent) and sea-based workers (5.4 percent).
Despite the “pockets of politcal uncertainties” across the globe, cash remittances in 2017 remained resilient. Remittances from the oil-dependent Middle Eastern countries increased by 3.4 percent, driven by growth in remittances from the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. Meanwhile, Asia-based overseas Filipinos’ remittances increased by7.3 percent as manifested in transfers from Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
There was an increase in remittances from the Americas which amounted to 5.8 percent and the major contributor was the 5.5 percent growth in remittances from the United States.
Despite the decrease in remittances from the United Kingdom due partically to the depreciation of the pound sterling vis-à-vis the US dollar, remittances from Europe went up by 5.1 percent.
According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas statement, the bulk of cash remittances came from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany and Hong Kong.
The Philippine government has earlier banned the sending of Filipino workers to Kuwait after several violent incidents affected migrant workers were brought to national government’s attention. There were some 250 – 260,000 Filipino migrant workers in Kuwait with some 70 percent employed as domestic helpers considered the most vulnerable of all workers.
The combined remittances from these countries accounted for 80.1 percent of the total cash remittances. (Melo M. Acuna / Bicol Times)