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Cash remittances through banks stood at $ 29.903 billion in 2020. REUTERS

from Luz Wendy T. Noble, columnist

REMITTANCES have decreased by 0.8% in 2020, to bethe first annual contraction in two decades, as some Philippine workers abroad (OFW) lost their jobs, while others tightened their belts amid the pandemic.

Cash remittances through banks stood at $ 29.903 billion last year, slightly lower than the record $ 30.133 billion in 2019, according to data released by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday.

Remittances saw their first annual contraction since -0.3% seen in 2001 and the worst since -18.3% recorded in 1999. However, the decline was better than the central bank’s forecast of 2% contraction for the whole year.

For ING Bank NV Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa, remittances may have shrunk faster than BSP data when adjusted for exchange rate movements.

In peso terms, remittances have actually shrunk by 4.8%, despite OFWs trying to find a way to send home more dollars to pay for fixed peso expenses, such as tuition or mortgage payments, he said. Mr. Map on a note.

In 2019, the peso moved beyond the P50 level per dollar and even reached P52 one dollar. By 2020, the peso estimated to reach the P48-a-dollar level, meaning OFWs needed to send more to provide for their families during the crisis.

The BSP said inflows from economies such as Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Germany and Kuwait fell last year.

On the other hand, remittances from OFW to the United States, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, Qatar, South Korea and Taiwan increased.

This change showed the different effects of fiscal support policies on host economies regarding the ability of OFWs to continue to support their families in the Philippines, said Chief Security Officer Robert Dan J. Roces.

For example, to bethe injection of scale support into the US allowed the OFWs stationed there to continue shipping that contributed to it as the country with the largest resource. Contrast this with other countries with traditionally strong origins such as Saudi Arabia that shook when blockades forced work stoppages and sent workers home, Mr Roces said in a text message.

BSP data showed that the United States had a share of 39.9% of total remittances in 2020. Inflow from the U.S., along with Saudi Arabia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Hong Kong, Qatar, and South Korea accounted for 78.6% of the total.

In December alone, remittances fell 0.4% to $ 2.89 billion from $ 2.902 billion a year earlier. The feeds, however, reached a 12-month high.

Money sent home by ground-based OFW fell 0.7% to $ 2.297 billion, while those employed on the ship shipped $ 593.2 million, up 0.8%.

Personal remittances, which include inbound inflows, fell 0.8% year-on-year to $ 33.194 billion in 2020. In December alone, personal remittances fell 0.3% to $ 3.205 billion.

This year, BSP projects cash remittances to increase by 4% as a result of an expected recovery of the global economy.

Mr Mapa said remittances would see a moderate increase this year as the peso strengthens and more offshore workers are deployed.

As vaccinations continue across the globe, job prospects could shine for OFWs in the coming months which will be crucial in supporting the decline in domestic revenue due to large job losses and poor consumer confidence , he said.

The latest data from the Foreign Department Affthe air showed more than 351,000 OFW have already been repatriated since the blast in February last year.

it [number of OFWs retrenched] sends a strong signal that the authorities should offhas an alternative source of income from them affected, said Emmanuel J. Lopez, dean of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran High School, in an e-mail.

Overseas Philippine Money Remittances (December 2020)



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