MANILA, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) increased by 6.4 percent year-on-year to 2.8 billion U.S. dollars in March 2019 from 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in March 2018, the country's central bank said on Wednesday.
This brings the total remittances for the first quarter of 2019 to 8.1 billion U.S. dollars, 3.7 percent higher compared to the 7.8 billion U.S. dollars posted in the same period last year, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said.
"The continued growth in personal remittances during the first three months of 2019 was driven by steady remittance inflows from land-based OF workers with work contracts of one year or more, which aggregated to 6.2 billion U.S. dollars, and compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts, which totaled 1.7 billion U.S. dollars," Diokno said.
Similarly, he said cash remittances from OFs coursed through banks in March 2019 amounted to 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, up by 6.6 percent year-on-year from the 2.4 billion U.S. dollars recorded in March 2018.
On a cumulative basis, he said cash remittances for the first quarter rose to 7.3 billion U.S. dollars, 4.2 percent higher than the first quarter 2018 level of 7 billion U.S. dollars.
"This growth was buoyed by the increase in remittances from both land-based (5.71 billion U.S. dollars) and sea-based (1.58 billion U.S. dollars) workers, which rose by 2.5 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively," Diokno added.
By source, he said the U.S. registered the highest share of overall remittances for the period at 35.1 percent. It was followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, the U.K., Japan, Canada, Qatar, China's Hong Kong, and Kuwait.
"The combined remittances from these sources accounted for almost 78 percent of total cash remittances from January to March 2019," Diokno added.
OFs remittances are one of the largest sources of foreign exchange income in the Philippines.
The government estimates the number of overseas Filipino workers at 10 million, accounting for nearly one-tenth of the country's population.