Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coursed through commercial banks rose anew by 18.1 percent in June 2006 to reach US$1.1 billion. This brought the first semester remittance level to US$6.0 billion or a year-on-year growth of 15.4 percent.
The sustained rise in remittances during the first half of 2006 resulted from the increasing demand for Filipino workers together with aggressive marketing efforts of commercial banks and private remittance agents to make their remittance services accessible to the growing number of overseas Filipinos. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on new hires and rehires showed that total deployment of overseas workers grew by 8.9 percent in June to 102,682. For the first half of the year, deployment reached 586,819 or 5.1 percent growth compared to the level for the same period last year. Sea-based workers which posted double-digit growths in February (16.1 percent), March (15.0 percent) and May (54.8 percent) further expanded by 7.6 percent in June, bringing the cumulative six-month increase in the deployment of sea-based OFWs to 14.6 percent or 139,228. Meanwhile, deployment of land-based workers which picked up pace in the latter part of the second quarter after a slow start in the first quarter of the year increased by 9.2 percent in June to 79,992, resulting in a modest 2.4 percent cumulative growth (or 447,591) for the first half of 2006.
The rise in deployment mirrored the increasing demand for well-trained and better-equipped Filipino seafarers given the country’s strict compliance with the standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The improvement was further facilitated by the Government’s initiatives of reinforcing the need to enhance worker capabilities through skills upgrading and orientations on country-specific culture and language, and the forging of deployment arrangements to meet the labor requirements of host countries.
The higher level of remittances during the semester in review was also supported by aggressive market development activities of commercial banks and private remittance agents geared towards providing more efficient remittance services to OFWs abroad and their beneficiaries such as: 1) offering competitive rates to clients; 2) increased market visibility through product brochures; 3) more remittance centers and tie-ups abroad; and 4) enhanced electronic banking services.
OFW remittances during the first semester continue to come from the U.S.A., Saudi Arabia, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, and United Arab Emirates.