MANILA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Overseas Filipino workers remitted a total of around 2.9 billion U.S. dollars in May 2019, up 5.5 percent from 2.7 billion U.S. dollars recorded in May 2018, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Monday.
On a cumulative basis, the central bank said personal remittances for the period of January to May 2019 increased by 4.1 percent to reach 13.7 billion U.S. dollars from last year's level of 13.2 billion U.S. dollars.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the steady growth in personal remittances during the first five months of 2019 drew support from the remittance inflows from land-based overseas Filipino workers with work contracts of one year or more, which aggregated to 10.5 billion U.S. dollars from 10.2 billion U.S. dollars in the same period last year.
Inflows from the compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts also contributed to this growth and totaled 2.9 billion U.S. dollars from 2.7 billion U.S. dollars a year ago, he added.
Likewise, Diokno said cash remittances from overseas Filipinos coursed through banks rose to 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in May 2019, a 5.7-percent increase, from 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in the same period a year ago.
This brought cash remittances for the period of January to May 2019 to reach 12.3 billion U.S. dollars, 4.5-percent higher than the 11.8 billion U.S. dollars recorded in the same period last year, Diokno said.
In particular, Diokno said cash remittances from land-based and sea-based workers increased 3.2 percent to 9.7 billion U.S. dollars and 9.2 percent to 2.7 billion U.S. dollars, respectively, during the first five months of 2019.
The BSP said the United States registered the highest share of overall remittances for January to May 2019 at 36 percent, followed by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Britain, Japan, Canada, China's Hong Kong, Qatar and Kuwait.
Overseas Filipinos remittances are one of the largest sources of foreign exchange income in the Philippines.
According to the BSP, personal remittances are a major driver of domestic consumption and in 2018 it accounted for 9.7 percent of gross domestic product and 8.1 percent of the gross national income.
The government estimates the number of overseas Filipino workers at 12 million, accounting for one-tenth of the country's population.
The central bank sees cash remittances growing by 3 percent this year.
In 2018, remittances grew 3.1 percent to 28.943 billion U.S. dollars from 2017's 28.060 billion U.S. dollars, a little past the BSP's 3-percent growth projection.