MALACAÑANG has lowered its cash remittance target from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) this year following a slowdown in the transmittal of funds from China, Hong Kong and Macau due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.
Nograles, in a briefing in Malacañang, said the government adjusted its original target of $34.5 billion for 2020 to $34.2 billion, which is 0.8 percentage points lower than the previous 3 percent.
The figure, however, is still higher than the $33.5 billion cash remittance in 2019.
“Based on these assumptions, we expect the COVID-19 outbreak could dampen our total cash remittance growth in 2020 by 0.8 percentage points from 3 percent to 2.2 percent.
(And) because of this COVID-19 epidemic, we have adjusted our growth projections to 2.2 percent and now expect (only) 34.2 billion US dollars in remittances for 2020,” Nograles said.
Nograles said that while the transfer of funds from China, Macau, and Hong Kong have been held back by the continuing spread of the virus, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) expects remittances from other source countries such as the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia to compensate for the loss.
Remittances from China account for 0.1 percent of total OFW remittances, while those from Macau account for 0.4 percent and those from Hong Kong accounts for 2.7 percent.
The Philippines had barred Filipinos from travelling to China, Macau and Hong Kong following the COVID-19 scare, while all travelers, except for Filipinos and those with Philippine resident visas, from the three countries have also been banned from entering the country.
Nograles said economic managers expect the COVID-19 to have a “minimal” impact on the agriculture sector, particularly on exports.
He cited in particular the banana sector, which based on the assessment of economic officials, has not slowed down.
“While there were previous logistical issues during the Chinese Lunar New Year break, this was only a temporary setback. Our banana exports to China have returned to normal,” he said.