Money sent home by Filipinos working overseas increased 4.9 percent in March to $2.514 billion from $2.397 billion a year ago, on the easing of restrictions and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in many advanced countries, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said Monday.
The BSP said in a statement cash remittances from land-based workers grew 5 percent in March to $1.948 billion, while those from sea-based workers rose 4.5 percent to $566 million.
The latest figure brought cash remittances in the first three months to $7.593 billion, up 2.6 percent from $7.403 billion in the same period last year.
The growth in cash remittances in the first quarter came mostly from the United States, Malaysia and Singapore.
Data showed the US registered the highest share to overall remittances at 40.8 percent in the first three months, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar, Taiwan and Malaysia.
The combined remittances from these top 10 countries accounted for 78.2 percent of total cash remittances.
Meanwhile, personal remittances, which include non-cash items, also increased 5.6 percent in March to $2.801 billion from $2.652 billion in the same month last year.
“This is the second consecutive month that remittances were higher than last year’s levels, reflecting mainly the easing of travel restrictions, re-opening of borders to foreign workers and progress in COVID-19 vaccine rollout in many advanced countries,” the BSP said.
Personal remittances from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more grew 5 percent to $2.115 billion from $2.014 billion recorded in March 2020, while remittances from sea-based workers and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year rose 4.5 percent to $617 million in from $591 million a year ago.
The BSP said that on a cumulative basis, remittances in the first quarter reached $8.454 billion, up by 2.9 percent from $8.218 billion recorded in the same period in 2020.
Cash remittances showed signs of recovery despite the pandemic last year, declining by just 0.8 percent to reach $29.903 billion from the record $30.133 billion in 2019.
This was stronger than the BSP’s earlier projection of a 2-percent contraction for the year. This year, the BSP expects remittances to grow by 4 percent on expectation that the pandemic would be over soon.
Remittances help support the country’s balance of payments position and offset the wide trade deficit. This keeps the peso stable against the US dollar and allows the BSP maintain a strong GIR position.