OFW remittance growth eases in March

Published by rudy Date posted on May 17, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Remittances from Filipinos abroad posted its slowest monthly growth in 19 months in March as it expanded by only 4.1 percent. But the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) remains confident that the amount of money sent home by overseas Filipinos would remain resilient nothwithstanding the tensions in Middle East and North African (MENA) states as well as the disaster in Japan.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. reported yesterday that remittances reached $1.616 billion in March or $63 million higher than the $1.553 billion recorded in the same period last year.

The growth recorded in March was the slowest since August 2009 when remittances posted a monthly growth of 2.8 percent.

The growth in OFW remittances slowed down for the fourth straight month after posting a 10.5-percent growth in November; 8.1 percent in December; 7.6 percent in January; 6.2 percent in February; and 4.1 percent in March.

“Remittances from overseas Filipinos coursed through banks grew year-on-year by 4.1 percent in March to reach $1.6 billion,” he stressed.

Despite the slowdown, Tetangco said the BSP is confident that remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would remain robust this year.

“Despite the ongoing social unrest in some part of the MENA region and the string of disasters in Japan, remittances maintained a steady pace of growth in the first quarter of the year,” the BSP chief said.

However, the BSP lowered its growth forecast for OFW remittances to seven percent or $20.1 billion instead of eight percent or $20.2 billion this year and further to five percent or $21.1 billion next year due to the impact of the tensions in MENA regions and the disasters in Japan last March 11.

Data showed that OFW remittances climbed 5.9 percent to $4.594 billion in the first quarter of the year from $4.339 billion in the same quarter last year as the amount of money sent home by sea-based Filipino workers jumped 12.1 percent while that of land-based workers grew 4.3 percent.

Filipinos in the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Italy accounted for 80 percent of the total remittances in January to March this year.

For one, statistics showed that the growth of total remittances from Japan slowed down to 5.3 percent in the first quarter of the year from 12.2 percent in the same quarter last year.

Remittances from Japan reached $219 million as more Filipinos reside in cities outside the areas affected by the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March 11.

Furthermore, Tetangco said the amount of money sent home by Filipinos from tension laden Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Libya inched up by 4.5 percent to $40.1 million in the first quarter of the year.

He pointed out that the continued deployment of Filipino workers to various destinations abroad over the next months is expected to help shore up the flows of remittances into the country..

“Government labor agencies are looking into ways to redeploy displaced overseas Filipino workers to alternative work destinations such as Australia where there are favorable employment opportunities as a result of reconstruction projects to rebuild properties that were damaged by the floods in December 2010,” he added.

In the first four months of the year, the state-run Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) processed 203,748 job orders.. About 30 percent of the job orders are for production and related workers, service, professional, technical, and related workers in the first quarter of the year for deployment in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

The BSP chief pointed out that OFWs and their beneficiaries could expect reliable, fast, and cost effective money transfer services as well as other innovative financial products that complement their savings and investment needs with the stronger presence and continuing expansion of the remittance network in strategic locations worldwide.

“The continued expansion of the network of bank and non-bank service providers and innovations in financial products in the remittance market, have facilitated the wider capture of fund transfers through the formal financial channels,” Tetangco said.

He added that the number of established tie-ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks, and branches or representatives of commercial banks abroad went up by 15.5 percent to 4,575 in the first quarter of the year from 3,962 in the same period last year. –Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star)

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