x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Filipinos send more cash home

More cash was remitted home by Filipinos working in the Middle East in the quarter of the year, new data shows.

Remittances from countries affected by the
Remittances from countries affected by the "Arab Spring" unrest rose 2.4 per cent to $425m in the first quarter of the year from the same period last year. Lauren Lancaster / The National

Remittances of Filipinos working in the Middle East rose 6.6 per cent in the first quarter to US$719 million (Dh2.64 billion) as regional unrest and an improving economy prompted an increase in money flows.

More money was sent home to the Philippines by workers in Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period last year, data from the Philippine central bank showed.

But the amount of remitted funds from Egypt, Libya, Syria and Jordan decreased.

"In Bahrain, people have been remitting more than normal but the effect has been relatively short-term," said Jarmo Kotilaine, the chief economist of NCB Capital in Saudi Arabia. "Across the region where there's been less disruption, we would expect a continuity in remittances."

Concern about social and political unrest and associated worries about the financial systems of Bahrain, Egypt and elsewhere, prompted Filipinos and other expatriates to send money home, say economists.

Remittances from countries affected by the "Arab Spring" unrest rose 2.4 per cent to $425m in the first quarter of the year from the same period last year.

About 10 million Filipinos are estimated to work in more than 120 countries.

A significant proportion of those are based in the Middle East, where they are employed in many sectors including retail, hospitality and health care.

Demand for their services in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the biggest Filipino employment markets regionally, has gradually risen as the economies have strengthened.

As many as 203,748 new job openings for Filipinos were seen from January to the end of last month, the central bank said.

A total of 30 per cent of the jobs were for positions in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Remittances from the UAE rose by 12.4 per cent in the first quarter to $174.9m, and by a more modest 1.4 per cent from Saudi Arabia to $379.2m.

Globally, Filipino expatriates sent home $4.6bn in the first quarter, a 5.9 per cent rise from the same period last year.

tarnold@thenational.ae