MONEY SENT HOME in July by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) increased by their fastest pace in four months, the Bangko Sental ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Friday.

Cash remittances saw a 7.1% rise to $2.283 billion in July from the $2.131 billion a year ago.

“Cash remittances from land-based workers (at US$1.8 billion) and from sea-based workers (at US$0.5 billion), posted 6.8% and 8.4% growth, respectively, compared to the levels reported a year ago,” the BSP said.

The United States, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore and Japan were the biggest sources of cash remittances in July, contributing 3.3 percentage points, 1.1 points, 0.8 points and 0.6 points, respectively, in July.

“I think the OF cash remittance growth in July was largely supported by sustained external demand for OF workers – brought about by healthy employment conditions in the major host countries of OF workers – as well as the depreciation in the Philippine peso,” Angelo B. Taningco, economist at Security Bank Corp., said in an e-mail.

Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines, said the early Christmas season for Filipinos has begun to kick in.

“At the same time, the weak peso, I think, encouraged our OFWs to send more remittances. The 7.1% growth was better than what we expected at 6.2%,” said Mr. Asuncion in a separate e-mail.

“With the holiday season closing rapidly in, I expect more robust growth from OFW remittances. This can help buoy further domestic demand consequently fueling better growth prospects for the last six months of 2017.”

The seven months to July saw cash remittances grow five percent to $16.095 billion from $15.323 billion in 2016’s comparable period.

Land-based workers sent in $12.8 billion remittances as of July, while sea-based workers remitted $3.3 billion in the same seven months.

The BSP cited preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showing deployed OFWs reached 1,222,003 in the seven months to July, more than half of the 2,112,331 workers deployed in the entire 2016.

“US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany and Hong Kong comprised about 80% of total cash remittances in the first seven months of 2017,” the BSP noted. – Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan