Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Remittances beat all forecasts--rise to $17.3B in 2009

Jun Vallecera
Business Mirror

THEY always knew their goal would be exceeded, and sure enough, on Monday, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said overseas Filipino worker (OFW) remittances grew at an annual clip of 5.6 percent to hit $17.3 billion in 2009.

This was faster than the hoped-for growth of just 4 percent in a year when such flows were to suffer along with many others because of the global economic crisis.
BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. never doubted the OFW remittances would remain resilient, no matter the dour forecasts that this important source of foreign exchange would fall victim to the global crisis as well.

But according to BSP Deputy Governor and officer in charge Diwa Guinigundo, the cumulative remittances of overseas Filipinos coursed through banks were stronger than expected in 2009.

Instead of growth of just 4 percent as expected, these grew instead by 5.6 percent year-on-year to $17.3 billion, or $200 million more than target.

The 2009 level exceeded the BSP’s forecast of $17.1-billion remittance flows, or a 4-percent growth for the year.

Remittances from sea-based and land-based workers rose by 12.1 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.

For December 2009 alone, remittances grew by 11.4 percent, registering the highest level at $1.6 billion, he said in a statement.

These flows provided strong support to domestic demand, allowing the country to evade a feared recession by actually growing 0.9 percent in terms of the gross domestic product (GDP).

The remittance level for the year accounted for 10.8 percent of GDP as it proved resilient amid the recent global financial crisis.

Guinigundo said the remittance flows were underpinned by factors, such as the sustained demand for Filipino workers overseas, specifically the skilled workers such as engineers, medical practitioners and teachers; and the conduct of bilateral talks with host countries which continue to open up new employment opportunities abroad for Filipinos and facilitate hiring of displaced workers who were affected by the global economic difficulties.

The remittance flows were also affected by the continued expansion of bank and nonbank service providers’ international and domestic market coverage to capture a larger share of the global remittance market, as well as the introduction of innovative products and services that cater to remitters’ specific needs.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said 41.6 percent or 221,548 of the total approved job orders of 532,214 in 2009 were processed during the year, possibly adding to the stock of remitters.

Processed job orders comprised mainly of service, production, and professional, technical and related job categories needed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Hong Kong.

The remaining 58.4 percent are still to be filled up.

The geographical diversification of OFWs has also contributed to the resilience of remittance flows.

Since not all host countries were severely affected by the global financial crisis, Middle East countries (Saudi Arabia, in particular, which is the major destination of OFWs) continue to absorb a significant number of deployed OFWs, including those that have been displaced elsewhere, Guinigundo said.

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