Aug 152016

Money sent home by Filipinos abroad expanded 4.8 percent to $2.33 billion in June. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – Money sent home by Filipinos abroad expanded 4.8 percent to $2.33 billion in June, bringing the first half tally closer to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)’s forecast for the year.

The latest growth figure was the biggest since the 8.4 percent recorded in February. For the first semester, remittances hit $13.19 billion, up 3.2 percent year-on-year.

BSP projects a growth rate of four percent this year. Last year, money from overseas Filipinos, a key economic driver that boosts consumer purchasing power, increased 4.6 percent.

“The continued demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad supported the steady remittance inflows,” the central bank said in a statement.

Citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment and Administration, BSP said the number of deployed new workers abroad hit 316,716 in the first half, adding to more than 10 million Filipinos abroad.

Broken down, land-based workers rose 0.9 percent, while their sea-based counterparts dropped 55.6 percent.

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In terms of remittances sent, land-based workers also accounted for the bulk at $10.4 billion as against sea-based employees with $2.8 billion as of June.

Majority of remittances, accounting for 80 percent of the total, came from the US, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the UK, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Germany.

“The steady stream of remittances was (also) supported by the efficient network of bank and non-bank remittance channels established worldwide to cater to the various needs of overseas Filipinos,” central bank said.

Data showed banks’ footprint abroad through tie-ups with remittance centers and overseas lenders actually declined 5.65 percent year-on-year to 5,228.

BSP did not provide a reason for the decline, but earlier, officials cited concerns on overseas de-risking attitudes toward Philippine banks seen with relaxed money laundering rules.

Remittances form part of the country’s balance of payments (BOP), which is the sum of all credit inflows and outflows in an economy.

For this year, the BOP is projected to record a surplus of $2 billion, narrower than last year’s $2.616 billion.

A surplus indicates the country has more resources to settle its debt obligations and trade needs.

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