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Filipino expat remittances from UAE hit $1.9 billion

UAE emerges as second-largest source for money transfers from the Gulf

Dubai: The UAE continued to be one of the largest sources of cash remittances to the Philippines, with the amount of funds transferred posting a 6.8 per cent increase in 2016.

From January to November 2016, Filipino expatriates sent home a total of $1.9 billion (Dh6.9 billion), making the UAE the second top source country for money transfers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.

The UAE is a major destination for migrant workers from the Philipines, estimated to be more than 500,000 as of 2014.

The Philippines’ central bank said the UAE was also one of the biggest contributors of money transfers worldwide, along with the United States, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Japan, Qatar, Hong Kong and Germany.

“Combined remittances from these countries accounted for more than 80 per cent of the total cash remittances in the first 11 months of 2016,” the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

The central bank also reported that the despite weak economic growth and low oil prices, money flows from GCC countries, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, are still growing. Cash transfers from Saudi Arabia declined by 6.5 per cent to $2.4 billion.

The Philippines witnessed a surge in remittances in November alone, when cash transfers from around the world reached $2.4 billion, up 18.4 per cent from a year earlier. This brought the cumulative remittances for the first nine months of 2016 to $26.9 billion, representing a 5.1 per cent year-on-year growth.

The World Bank had earlier predicted that remittances to a number of countries, especially those in South Asia, were forecast to drop by 2.3 per  cent in 2016. Cash transfers to India were expected to fall by 5 per cent, while Bangladesh can expect to see a 3.5 per cent decline.

“Besides weak economic growth in remittance-source countries, cyclical low oil prices have dampened the growth of remittance flows [from GCC countries]” the World Bank said.

“More worrisome are structural factors, such as de-risking by commercial banks, the labour market nationalisation policies in some GCC countries that discourage demand for migrant workers and exchange controls in many countries faced with adverse balance of payments and falling international reserves.”

Remittances to Philippines (January to November 2016)

Saudi Arabia: $2.4 billion

UAE: $1.9 billion

Qatar: $946 million

Kuwait: $781 million

Oman: $379 million

Bahrain: $158 million

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

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