JUNE 23, 2009
(STAR) By Des Ferriols - Remittances from the US declined by 10 percent in the first four months of this year and if this continues for the rest of the year, total remittances could post the first decline since the country started sending workers abroad.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that from January to April, remittances from the US reached only $2.286 billion, accounting for nearly half of the $5.498-billion total remittances for the period this year.

BSP data indicated that the four-month level was 10.43 percent lower than the $2.552-billion level posted over the same period in 2008, with the largest decline recorded in sea-based remittances which dropped by 16.15 percent.

Out of the total remittances coming from the US, inflows from sea-based workers accounted for $635.83 million while land-based workers accounted for $1.917 billion.

The BSP has been careful about breaking down remittances that come from the US since these also include inflows that only pass through the US financial system but do not actually originate from US-located Filipinos.

A clearer indicator, according to the BSP data, were remittances that came from land-based workers which presumably represented workers located in the US as well as immigrants.

Nevertheless, inflows from both sources showed a decline in the first four months, indicating that if the trend continued for the remainder of the year, total remittances could decline as expected by analysts and private think tanks except the BSP.

Remittances from Filipinos in Canada, on the other hand, surged by 64.69 percent to $567.243 million during the first four months of this year from $344.434 million a year ago.

On the other hand, remittances from workers located elsewhere in Asia showed significant resilience except for Hong Kong and Taiwan where remittances shrank during the period.

Total remittances from overseas Filipinos in Asia went up 14.31 percent from $604.1 million last year to $690.57 million despite the 22.45 percent decline in remittances from Hong Kong-based workers.

BSP data showed that workers in Hong Kong sent home $114.479 million this year compared with $147.6 million sent last year because the 25.52-percent decline in inflows from land-based workers wiped out the 18 percent increase in inflows from sea-based workers.

However, BSP data showed that remittances from Japan-based workers increased by 53.37 percent from $164.155 million last year to $251.761 million this year mostly because of the significant expansion in remittances from land-based workers.

Workers from Singapore, whose remittances also represented a significant portion of total remittances, sent home 30.56 percent more during the four months period to $217.226 million from $166.383 million.

Although the slowdown was significant, data also showed that remittances from other areas like Europe and the Middle East still increased but inflows from the US offset these increases.

Remittances from Europe increased by 4.21 percent, mostly from sea-based workers whose remittances increased by 30.5 percent, off-setting the 6.43 percent decline in remittances from land-based workers.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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