OFW remittances seen to slow down

Published by rudy Date posted on December 8, 2008

As developed economies succumb to recession, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said overseas Filipino workers’ remittances would slow down in 2009 but ruled out the possibility of a decline as labor deployment continued to increase.

Tetangco told reporters over the weekend that so far this year, remittance inflows are still growing faster than expected, increasing so far by 17 percent in the first nine months of this year.

“We were only expecting remittance growth to average at around 11 percent but we’re doing better than projected,” Tetangco said.

Tetangco noted that remittance growth slowed down in August but this was normal because inflows from overseas Filipinos normally slow down after the peak in May, June and July.

Global economies have started to decelerate this early but Tetangco said that all statistical indicators still show a sustained increase in OFW remittances.

“We’re expecting that there would be some effect (of the global slowdown) but we don’t think there will be a decline in the amount,” he said. “There might be some deceleration in growth rate but no decline in the amount of actual remittances.”

Tetangco said data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) still indicated a consistent increase in the deployment of newly-hired workers for overseas placements.

“There are workers coming home, to be sure but there are also workers being deployed so the actual number of deployed workers does not actually increase significantly,” he said.

What has significantly changed, according to Tetangco, was the quality of workers being sent abroad.

“A lot more skilled workers are going for jobs abroad, and the number of unskilled workers like domestic helpers is actually declining,” Tetangco said. “These skilled workers have better jobs so they remit more.”

The latest data from the BSP indicated that remittances from Filipinos living abroad reached $1.3 billion in September this year, bringing the comulative total for the first nine months of this year to $12.3 billion, or 17 percent from last year’s figure.

“Robust remittance flows have been shored up by strong overseas demand for Filipino skills,” said Tetangco. He said these inflows have remained the source of strength for the economy amid problematic external environment.

The BSP recorded a decline in remittances in August but the BSP said this was caused by the cautionary stance that overseas Filipinos took as world financial markets reeled from the effects of high oil prices, high inflation and the beginnings of the financial meltdown in the US.

In September and the remaining months of the year, remittances are expected to continue rising especially towards the holiday season when inflows from OFWs peak annually.

The actual number of deployed workers has breached the one-million mark, the BSP said, quoting figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Based on preliminary data from the POEA, the BSP said that for the first nine months of 2008, the number of Filipinos deployed abroad reached 1,005,767.

However, the Arroyo administration has been bitterly criticized for failing to generate the kind of jobs that would encourage highly-skilled workers to stay in the country but the government instead embarked on aggressive promotions campaign to train workers for jobs abroad.

As a result of labor export policies and programs, the country has been one of the biggest recipients of workers’ remittances in the world and the BSP extolled the value of these programs for boosting remittance flows into the country. –Des Ferriols, Philippine Star

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