MANILA—Remittances by overseas Filipino workers rose in the first quarter amid earlier fears of a decline due to the political unrest and disasters in other parts of the globe, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported.
In a statement, the BSP said remittances from OFWs totaled $4.6 billion in the first quarter of the year, or 5.9 percent more than what was recorded in the same 2010 period.
Coursed through banks, the first-quarter remittances rose after OFWs remitted $1.6 billion in March, or 4.1 percent more than the money they sent to the Philippines a year earlier.
“The robustness of remittances was due to higher cash transfers from both sea-based and land-based workers, with their remittances for the first quarter expanding by 12.1 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively,” the BSP said in a news release posted on their website.
The BSP noted that 80 percent of the remittances reported by local banks came from the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Italy.
At the height of the repatriation efforts from strife-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said OFW displacement could bring down annual remittances by $1.6 billion.
In February, BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Gunigundo said the political unrest in the said regions — the source of over 16 percent of OFW remittances — will create “some impact” on remittances and exports. But according to the Bangko Sentral, remittances from strife-torn Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Libya even grew to $40.1 million in the first quarter, or 4.5 percent higher than what Filipinos from those countries sent back to the Philippines in the first three months of 2010.
Meanwhile, remittances from Japan, which was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami in March, grew by 5.3 percent to $219 million, the BSP said. It noted that more OFWs in Japan reside outside the areas that the twin calamities hit. “This represented, however, a slowdown from the 12.2 percent growth recorded a year ago,” the BSP said.
“The continued deployment of Filipino workers to various destinations abroad over the next two months is expected to help shore up the flow of remittances into the country,” the BSP added.
In March, the BSP also said an economic boost in Japan — projected to get a jumpstart from reconstruction efforts in disaster stricken country — will likely trickle down to the Philippines.