Personal remittances from Overseas Filipinos (OFs) increased by 6.4 percent year-on-year to US$2.8 billion in March 2019 from US$2.6 billion in March 2018. This brought the total remittances for the first quarter of 2019 to US$8.1 billion, higher by 3.7 percent compared to the US$7.8 billion posted in the same period last year, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno announced today.1 The continued growth in personal remittances during the first three months of 2019 was driven by steady remittance inflows from land-based OF workers with work contracts of one year or more, which aggregated to US$6.2 billion, and compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts, which totaled US$1.7 billion.
Similarly, cash remittances from OFs coursed through banks in March 2019 amounted to US$2.5 billion, up by 6.6 percent year-on-year from the US$2.4 billion recorded in March 2018. Of the 6.6 percent growth in March 2019, 2.0, 1.7 and 1.2 percentage points were contributed by the United States (US), Singapore and the United Kingdom (UK), respectively.
On a cumulative basis, cash remittances for the first quarter rose to US$7.3 billion, 4.2 percent higher than the first quarter 2018 level of US$7 billion. This growth was buoyed by the increase in remittances from both land-based (US$5.71 billion) and sea-based (US$1.58 billion) workers, which rose by 2.5 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. By country source, the US registered the highest share of overall remittances for the period at 35.1 percent. It was followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, the UK, Japan, Canada, Qatar, Hong Kong, and Kuwait.2 The combined remittances from these countries accounted for almost 78 percent of total cash remittances from January to March 2019.
1 The BSP started to release data on personal remittances in June 2012. 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).
2 There are some limitations on the remittance data by source. A common practice of remittance centers in various cities abroad is to course remittances through correspondent banks, most of which are located in the U.S. Also 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. Therefore, the U.S. would appear to be the main source of OF remittances because banks attribute the origin of funds to the most immediate source. The countries are listed in order of their share of cash remittances, i.e., from highest to lowest.