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March remittances down 9.9% to $2.6B

Bangko Sentral cites base effects, holidays and Kuwait repatriations

Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in March fell from a year earlier, a result the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) attributed to base effects, the Holy Week holidays and repatriations from Kuwait.

Personal remittances, which sum up the net compensation of OFWs, personal transfers whether in cash or in kind and also capital transfers between households, totaled $2.627 billion for the month.

The result — 9.9 percent down from the $2.915 billion posted a year earlier but up 3.9 percent from February’s $2.528 billion — took year-to-date remittances to $7.8 billion, 1.3 percent higher year on year.

“The bulk (77.5 percent) of personal remittances was from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, which summed up to $6.1 billion (growing by 0.4 percent), while 20 percent derived from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year, amounting to $1.6 billion (rising by 2.2 percent) for the same period,” the Bangko Sentral said in a statement.

Cash remittances, which only count money sent home via banks, fell by 9.8 percent to $2.360 billion in March from $2.615 billion a year earlier.

The drop was attributed to the 9.7-percent and 10.2-percent contractions, respectively, in transfers from land- and sea-based workers.

The countries that registered the biggest declines in cash remittances for March were Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and the United States.

“The negative growth during the month was primarily due to base effect following the sharp increase in remittances in March 2017 at 10.7 percent,” the Bangko Sentral said.

Last year’s $2.915-billion result was a record high said to have been spurred by OFWs taking advantage of a weaker peso, which means that families back home got more for every dollar.

Further contributing to the decline was March’s reduced banking days due to the celebration of Holy Week, which in 2017 occurred in April.

“Moreover, the continued repatriation of OF workers from the Middle East countries could have affected the inflows of cash remittances,” the central bank also pointed out.

Citing preliminary data from the Labor department, the BSP said that a total of 1,124 overseas Filipino workers had been repatriated as February 8 2018, following the implementation of a deployment ban.

Year to date, cash remittances stood at $7.0 billion, up 0.8 percent from the comparable 2017 period.

Broken down, cash remittances sent by land- and sea-based workers totalled $5.6 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, 0.4 percent and 2.3 percent higher year on year.

For the three-month period, the bulk of cash remittances came from the US, UAE, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Canada, Qatar, Germany and Hong Kong, which combined accounted for almost 80.1 percent of total.

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