Cash sent home through banks by Filipinos abroad grew 3.4 percent year-on-year to $2.022 billion last January—the first time that remittances breached the $2-billion mark at the start of the year.
But the Department of Finance’s chief economist reminded Tuesday that there remained risks to remittances growth this year amid cheap global oil prices.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data released also on Tuesday showed that cash remittances in January exceeded the $1.956 billion recorded during the same month last year.
January is usually a weak month for remittances having come from the December peak.
According to the BSP, cash from land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) rose 3 percent year-on-year to $1.6 billion, while those from sea-based OFWs increased 4.6 percent to $447 million.
Cash remittances from Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States combined accounted for over 75 percent of the total inflows last January.
“Remittance flows from overseas Filipinos remained resilient, underpinned by the sustained demand for skilled Filipino manpower overseas,” the BSP said.
The BSP cited that preliminary Philippine Overseas Employment Administration data showed 30.5 percent of the 84,670 approved job orders in January were processed within the month to fill up vacancies for production, professional, service and technical workers in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and United Arab Emirates.
“The continued efforts of bank and non-bank remittance service providers to expand their international and domestic market coverage through their network of remittance business partners worldwide also provided support to steady remittance flows,” the BSP added.
In an economic bulletin, Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran noted that “despite record-low oil prices, the Middle East continues to be a strong source of remittances,” with a 23.2-percent share of the total in 2015.
“However, the government should be prepared with options when the effect of the oil price crisis starts to seep in,” Beltran said.
While lagging behind remittances from the Americas and the Middle East at present, “the recent Asean integration may be a key to stronger remittance flows from Asia in the near future,” the Finance official said.