2016 remittances seen at $25 billion

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said remittances will not contract or significantly slow down despite the problems faced by Middle Eastern countries due mainly to the lingering oil-price slump.

Diwa C. Guinigundo, BSP  deputy governor for the Monetary Stability Sector, said cash being sent home by Filipino migrant workers is set to hit “at least a flat growth” for 2016, despite concerns over layoffs in the Middle East.

Still, he said, the BSP will closely monitor the impact of the oil slump on remittances.

“Yes, we have read reports, but we have not had the opportunity to verify those reports. What we know today is that we receive job orders, around 770,000 job orders in 2015. Only about 44 percent were processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration [POEA],” Guinigundo said.

“If out of the orders, only 44 percent were processed, and that gave us almost $25 billion by the end of 2015, then any reduction from the 770,000 orders will really impact on remittances. But, at the least, it should give us a flat growth of $25 billion for 2016,” he added.

The growth in remittances from Filipino migrant workers recovered in November 2015. Still, data showed that the actual inflow of remittances remained weak even when overseas Filipino workers were supposed to be sending more money during that time to fund family expenses for the holiday season.

Latest data from the central bank showed that cash remittances went on to grow by 3.2 percent in November 2015 from the same month in 2014. This rate is a more normalized growth, as compared to the 0.2-percent increase seen in October 2015. However, the actual dollar value of remittances even declined last November—indicating that the stronger growth was only due to the low base effect set in 2014.

“So any impact on what we are seeing today in terms of oil will still provide us with stable level of remittances,” Guinigundo said.

He also said the BSP will step up efforts on surveillance on the effects of oil prices to the remittances.

The BSP is set to release the year-end 2015 remittance data on Friday.

Source: www.businessmirror.com.ph (February 17, 2016, Bianca Cuaresma)