Sunday, 14 March 2010

January remittances climbed 6% — Tetangco

Roderick T. dela Cruz
Manila Standard

Remittances sent by migrant Filipinos rose over 6 percent in January to at least $1.34 billion from a year ago amid the continuous deployment of skilled workers abroad.

Bangko Sentral Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr., citing preliminary data, said the growth in remittances in January exceeded the bank’s full-year growth target of 6 percent.

“This year, we are projecting 6 percent for the whole year, but for the initial data I have seen, it looks like the figure for January could be in excess of the projection for the year,” Tetangco told reporters at the sidelines of the Chamber of Thrift Banks convention held at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City Friday.

Remittances in January last year stood at $1.266 billion. The official remittance data for January this year will be released next week.

Remittances in 2009 rose 5.6 percent to $17.3 billion, supported by an 11.4-percent increase in December.

Tetangco said the outlook for remittances was anchored on the continuous demand for Filipino workers in other countries. He said the recruitment of highly skilled workers such as engineers, medical practitioners and teachers also translate into higher income.

“They are able to remit more and banks have been quite aggressive in putting up remittance centers abroad and tying up with partners abroad,” he said.

Tetangco said thrift banks have also become active in the remittance business.

“The amount remitted through them [thrift banks] have also gone up in 2009 and it is another market that thrifts can tap not only for remittance businesses but for also ancilliary businesses such as bank lending,” he added.

Bangko Sentral said remittances remained resilient amid the recent global financial crisis, providing strong support to domestic demand.

Remittances in 2009 accounted for 10.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and has bolstered the peso against the US dollar.

The peso completed its best week in more than two months, rising 0.9 percent to 45.66 per dollar Friday from 45.72 Thursday. The currency touched 45.56 Thursday, the strongest level since Jan. 12.

The central bank is prepared to use “necessary monetary tools” and foreign-exchange regulations to smoothen exchange rate volatility, Tetangco said Thursday.

Capital inflows “have not yet been at levels that could be considered alarming,” he said.

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