Personal remittances from Overseas Filipinos (OFs) reached a record high of US$33.5 billion in 2019, 3.9 percent higher than the US$32.2 billion recorded a year ago. For the month of December, personal remittances posted a year-on-year growth of 1.9 percent growth to register its highest monthly level at US$3.2 billion.
The sustained growth in personal remittances during the year was primarily driven by the 3.5 percent increase in remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, which amounted to US$25.6 billion from US$24.8 billion. Further, the 6.5 percent rise in personal remittances from sea-based and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year, amounting to US$ 7.1 billion from US$6.7 billion, contributed to the growth in personal remittances. In 2019, personal remittances, which boost household income and consumption, accounted for 9.3 percent and 7.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national income (GNI), respectively.
Much of the remittances from OFs were in the form of cash that were coursed through the banks. Total cash remittances in 2019 amounted to an all-time high of US$30.1 billion, 4.1 percent higher than the
US$28.9 billion recorded in 2018. Growth of cash remittances was fueled by higher flows from both land and sea-based workers, amounting to US$23.6 billion (an increase of 3.5 percent) and US$6.5 billion (an increase of 6.5 percent), respectively.
Notwithstanding pockets of political uncertainties across the globe, cash remittances in 2019 remained strong. This is evident in inward remittances from Asia, the Americas, and Africa, where inflows grew annually by 12.3 percent, 10.6 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. The growth of inflows in these regions more than made up for the 9.8 percent decline in remittances from the Middle East.
During the year, remittance inflows were sourced mainly from the U.S., which accounted for the highest share to total remittances at 37.6 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Arab Emirates, the U.K., Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, and Kuwait. Remittances from these countries accounted for 78.4 percent of total cash remittances during the period.