Wednesday, May 16, 2012

OFW remittances up 5.4% to $4.8 billion in Q1

MANILA, Philippines - Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) climbed by 5.4 percent in the first quarter of the year on the back of the sustained demand for skilled Filipino workers overseas, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday. BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said total remittances from overseas Filipinos reached $4.842 billion from January to March this year or $248 million higher than last year’s $4.594 billion. “Robust cash transfers in the first quarter of 2012 were supported by the sustained demand for Filipino manpower in various labor markets,” Tetangco said. He said remittances from land-based Filipino workers inched up by 2.7 percent to $3.7 billion in the first three months of the year while that of sea-based workers jumped 15.3 percent to $1.1 billion. He added that bulk of the remittances originated from the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Italy, and Hong Kong. For February alone, the BSP chief said remittances rose five percent to $1.697 billion compared to $1.616 billion in the same month last year. Recent data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that total processed job orders stood at 68,711 for the first four months of the year. Job orders were intended for manpower requirements in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Aside from the diversified destinations and skills of overseas Filipinos, the BSP also cited the strategic network of bank and non-bank service providers across the globe as well as the new financial products and money transfer services offered in the remittance market. “Increased inflows of overseas Filipinos’ remittances were made possible by the continued expansion of bank’s presence across the globe through tie-ups established by local financial institutions with foreign and local money transfer operators, mobile phone service operators and pawnshops,” he said. OFW remittances went up by 7.2 percent to a new record high of $20.117 billion last year from $18.763 billion in 2010 exceeding the revised growth target of seven percent. This year, the BSP sees the growth of OFW remittances slowing down to five percent. Higher remittances result in stronger external payments position, boosting the country’s buffer fund to fend off the impact of global shocks. The Philippines has so far received at least five upgrades from rating agencies since President Aquino assumed office in June of 2010 on the back of the country’s strong external payments position. - By Lawrence Agcaoili