By: Byron Ng & Manuel Ramos
For the past few months, the news cycle has been dominated by doom and gloom considering the current state of political polarization in the country. There always seemed to be some rising issue regarding gas prices, food insecurity, and just recently the staggering 7.7% inflation rate. Despite this, Filipinos situated within the country can look forward to Christmas with the anticipation of receiving a gift from Filipinos abroad–a gift that may well be an extraordinarily large amount of money.
Firstly, a remittance is a portion of income from an migrant worker sent back to the country to, for example, help support their family. The Central Bank of the Philippines categorizes the country’s remittances in two ways, personal and cash. Cash is relatively straightforward, and personal remittance is just a calculation based on the net compensation to overseas workers and their personal and capital transfers. Remittances can be sent back to a migrant’s country for a fee through bank transfers or remittance centers (locally or online). It’s also worth noting that remittances sent through private companies like remittance centers are still regarded by the Central Bank as part of the formal channels since the transfer would then usually be done through the correspondent company’s bank account. Notable remittance centers in the Philippines are Cebuana Lhuillier and Western Union.
As for policies relating to remittances, these are also handled and regulated by The Central Bank of the Philippines. These policies serve to ensure the safety, ease, and definition of transactions from abroad. For example, the Anti-Money Laundering Law ensures that the money imported (or exported) to (or from) the Philippines are of a legal nature. Another policy worth noting is the one that states Non-Bank Financial Institutions (which remittance companies are a part of) do not have to abide to an interest rate ceiling. Aside from the policies from the Central Bank, the Philippines also allows provides tax exemptions, as written in The Tax Reform Act of 1997, to Filipino migrant workers in appreciation of their service for the country.
As compared to 2021, the remittances this year rose by a total of 3.1%. The total amount of remittances from January to September of this year are $23,825,489,000. The rise in these remittances may be attributed to the easing of labor policies abroad and the subsequent hike in wages (Desiderio, 2022). More specifically, 79% of these remittances come from landbased working Filipinos, more specifically these remittances total to $18,903,294,000. It’s known that plenty of Filipinos turn to the Americas region for overseas work, so it comes as no surprise that this region yields the most remittances out of any in the world, followed by Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Oceania and then Africa. On the other hand, the region with the most seabased remittances being sent home is once again the Americas region. This could be attributed to their large cruise ship and extensive cargo industry, with the demand for these cruise ship staff and workers rising in 2022 (Huelar, 2022). All of these hard earned remittances may be directly attributed to the 10.2 million of our countrymen working abroad to ensure a brighter future for themselves and for those whom they remit money for.
The Philippines in the recent decades has had a strong position as a labor exporting country, constantly belonging to the top when it comes to remittances received from abroad. To help better visualize this here is a graph on the country’s remittances by source:
The World Bank forecasts that overseas remittances will account for 9.5% of the Philippines’ GDP in 2022, so it may be inferred that these remittances will continue to play a big role in how much money the Philippines is able to produce and use. The lowering of these remittances would have an effect on the state of the country’s economy. This can be seen in the slight dip in the total remittances sent over to the country in 2020, as compared to the amounts in 2019 and 2021. Whilst in 2022, the country’s GDP is expected to grow at a rate of 7.4%, despite the rising prices of goods and services in the country. In connection with the country’s GDP, this growth it shows may be in part due to the growth in the amount of remittances sent over.
How Filipinos use the money sent back by their family however, has changed. The spending habits of Filipinos, and how they budget their money has indeed changed due to the rising rate of inflation which has its corresponding effect on the prices of goods and services. According to a study conducted by Kantar, Filipinos split their monthly budgets into five categories: Food budgeting, Healthcare and coping, Insurance, Recreation and Beauty products. Most notable of which are Recreation, which includes travel expenses that have risen since the easing of COVID regulations and Food Budgeting, which saw a lower amount spent on ingredients for home cooked meals as eating out has become more common due in part once again to the easing of regulations.
Finally, with these remittances coming in just a few weeks around Christmas and despite the consecutive wave of bad news, it seems our Christmas can weather the whatever comes its way. All in all, Filipinos can expect to indulge themselves with the spirit of the holiday once again and enjoy a very merry Christmas.
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Bangko Sentral Nn Pilipinas. (2022). Manual Of Regulations On Foreign Exchange Transactions.
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Ratha, D., & DILIP RATHA is head of the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development and lead economist. (n.d.). F&D article. What Are Remittances? Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/basics/76-remittances.htm