Report exceeds government’s target for 2008
Money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) has slightly surpassed the government’s target for 2008, posting double-digit growth on the back of continued deployment of Filipinos abroad amid the global financial crisis, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
In a statement, the central bank said remittances rose by 13.7 percent to $16.4 billion in 2008, slightly higher than its forecast of $16.3 billion.
For the month of December, remittances rose by 0.8 percent year-on-year to $1.407 billion.
“Amid the challenges posed by the global financial market strains and the economic downturn experienced by host economies, remittances from overseas Filipinos remain a dependable source of foreign exchange for the economy,” central bank Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said.
The major sources of the remittances were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Tetangco said that sustained demand for Filipino manpower worldwide, particularly professional and skilled workers, combined with greater access by overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries to expanded remittance transfer facilities, helped shore up remittance flows.
Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the number of Filipinos deployed abroad rose by 27.8 percent to 1,376,823 in 2008 from 1,077,623 in 2007.
The number deployed abroad in December, though, declined by 5.8 percent to 89,799 compared with the deployment figure in December of 2007.
“While there are expectations that the number of Filipinos deployed overseas could contract in the coming months because of the global economic slowdown, there are favorable developments that provide some reason for optimism,” Tetangco said.
The central bank expects remittances to grow below its forecast of 6 percent to 9 percent for this year because of job layoffs abroad as a result of the global crisis.
Bangko Sentral added that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration had indicated that labor demand could remain strong in Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Qatar, the central bank added, could continue to demand foreign workers in the power/energy, tourism/hotel and real-estate sectors.
The hiring program for nurses and caregivers in Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which will commence by end of April or early May this year, also provides opportunities for Filipinos in the health- and medical-care sectors in Japan.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Japan International Corporation for Welfare Services signed the implementing agreement covering the entry of nurses and caregivers on January 12.
Tetangco said Filipino workers could benefit from the rapid expansion of New Zealand’s dairy industry, spurred by higher milk prices, which have created demand for dairy-farm workers. –Maricel E. Burgonio, Reporter, Manila Times