Personal remittances from Overseas Filipinos (OFs) reached US$23.2 billion for January to September 2017, registering 4.8 percent year-on-year growth, BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. announced today.1 Personal remittances from land-based OFs with work contracts of one year or more including other household-to-household transfers rose by 5.1 percent to US$18.4 billion while those from sea-based and land-based OFs with work contracts of less than one year likewise increased by 3.5 percent to US$4.8 billion for the same period. However, personal remittances in September (at US$2.3 billion) were 7.0 percent lower than the level posted in the same month last year.
For the first nine months of 2017, cash remittances from OFs coursed through banks recorded 3.8 percent growth from the level posted in the same period a year ago, reaching US$20.8 billion. Cash remittances from land-based and sea-based workers grew by 3.8 percent and 3.5 percent to reach US$16.4 billion and US$4.4 billion, respectively. For September alone, however, total cash remittances fell by 8.3 percent year-on-year to US$2.2 billion. This was attributed to the 11.7 percent drop in cash remittances from land-based workers which offset the 6.0 percent increase in transfers from sea-based workers. There are reports that a number of global correspondent banks have closed their service facilities on money service business (MSB), reflective of the increasing global trend to reduce correspondent banking relationships and focus more on home market. This may have partly affected remittances flows during the month.
The countries that registered the biggest declines in cash remittances in September were Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, Qatar, and Australia. For Saudi Arabia, the decline in remittances could partly be the result of the continued repatriation of OF workers under the Saudi Arabian Amnesty Program which started last March 2017. On 26 September 2017, the Saudi government extended the amnesty program anew and a total of 8,467 undocumented Filipinos already availed of the initial offer, according to the DFA.
Cash remittances coming from the United States (US), Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany and Hong Kong comprised about 72 percent of total cash remittances in the first nine months of 2017.2
1 As defined in the Balance of Payments Manual, 6th Edition (BPM6), personal remittances represent the sum of net compensation of employees (i.e., gross earnings of overseas Filipino (OF) workers with work contracts of less than one year, including all sea-based workers, less taxes, social contributions, and transportation and travel expenditures in their host countries), personal transfers (i.e., all current transfers in cash or in kind by OF workers with work contracts of one year or more as well as other household-to-household transfers between Filipinos who have migrated abroad and their families in the Philippines), and capital transfers between households (i.e., the provision of resources for capital purposes, such as for construction of residential houses, between resident and non-resident households without anything of economic value being supplied in return). The BSP started to release data on personal remittances in June 2012.
2 Remittance centers in various cities abroad course remittances through correspondent banks, most of which are located in the U.S. These remittances coursed through money couriers cannot be disaggregated by actual country source and are lodged under the country where the main offices are located, which, in many cases, is in the U.S.