Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Philippine $16.4-B remittance beats ’08 forecast

Jun Vallecera
Business Mirror

THE remittances of millions of overseas Filipinos, a key component to sustained domestic expansion, proved slightly better than forecast in 2008, totaling $16.426 billion during the year. “This was 13.7 percent higher than the level recorded in 2007 and slightly above the BSP’s growth forecast of 13 percent or $16.3 billion for the full-year 2008.”

That’s Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. speaking on Monday. He added, “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.”

Earlier apprehensions that the global economic downturn would dampen remittance growth to the detriment of domestic consumption—vital to the continued fueling of local output or the gross domestic product—were thus dissipated by the newly posted data.

Tetangco said in December alone, the remittances totaled $1.4 billion, ensuring continued billion-dollar remittance levels that began more than three years ago or in May 2006.

He traced this development to “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.”

Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) deployment during the year grew at a robust rate of 27.7 percent to 1.376 million from 1.077 million previously. This was true even with actual deployment in December falling by 5.8 percent to 89,799 and giving some substance to arguments that deployment numbers in the future would flatten and eventually decline.

Tetangco acknowledged that while the global economic landscape was likely to worsen over the next few months, there nevertheless are certain areas that permit government to remain hopeful. “Specifically, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA indicated that labor demand could remain strong in Canada, Bulgaria, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. The latter in particular could continue to demand foreign workers in the power/energy, tourism/hotel and real estate sectors.”

He also reported the hiring program for nurses and caregivers in Japan under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) “will commence by end of April or early May this year.”

The implementing agreement covering the entry of nurses and caregivers was signed by the POEA and the Japan International Corp. for Welfare Services January 12.

“Moreover, Filipino workers could benefit from the rapid expansion of New Zealand’s dairy industry, spurred by higher milk prices, which created demand for dairy farm workers,” added Tetangco.

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