OFW remittances hit $28.1 billion in 2017

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP)

Manila, Philippines – Cash sent by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) surged to an all-time high last December, and pushed the overall growth of remittances for the whole of 2017 above the government’s projection.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday reported that remittances last December alone rose by 7.1 percent to $2.74 billion. December’s remittance inflow was the largest on record, and was buoyed by cash remittances from the United States, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore.

This brings full-year cash remittances to $28.1 billion, 4.3 percent higher than the $26.9 billion in 2016, and faster than the pace earlier expected by the government at 4 percent.

Cash remittances were supported by the increase in transfers from both land-based workers by 4 percent and by  sea-based workers by 5.4 percent.

In a statement, BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. welcomed the development, saying cash remittances in 2017 proved to be resilient, despite “pockets of political uncertainties across the globe.”

By region, money sent from the Middle East increased by 3.4 percent, driven by growth in remittances from the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. Meanwhile, remittances from Asia rose by 7.3 percent, boosted by transfers originating from Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.

For the Americas, which increased by 5.8 percent, the major contributor was the 5.5-percent growth in remittances from the US.

The BSP also said that despite the decrease in remittances coming from the United Kingdom —partly due to the depreciation of the pound sterling vis-a-vis the US dollar—
remittances from Europe went up by 1.5 percent.

Personal remittances, meanwhile, also posted a record high of $3 billion during the month, representing an expansion of 7.9 percent relative to the level recorded in the same month last year.

This brings the cumulative personal remittances level in January to December 2017 to $31.3 billion, 5.3 percent higher than the previous year’s $29.7 billion.

Personal remittances are sent by Filipino migrant workers both in cash and in kind. The personal remittances of OFWs last year accounted for 10 percent of GDP.

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