Overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) remittances coursed through banks in February recorded over a billion mark at US$1.1 billion, expanding year-on-year by 25.4 percent. This brought the year-to-date level of remittances to US$2.2 billion, or 22.6 percent higher than the US$1.8 billion recorded a year ago. Remittances coursed through banks are expected to grow by 10 percent to US$14.0 billion in 2007.
The robust growth of remittances was achieved mainly on the back of banks’ wider network, as well as enhanced and efficient financial services to OFWs and their beneficiaries, combined with continued demand for higher-skilled, thus better-paid, Filipino workers by host countries. Financial intermediaries, acting as channels to facilitate the delivery of remittances and financial services to OFWs and their beneficiaries, continued to capture a large segment of the growing remittance market. Enhanced products and services introduced in recent years─such as the increase in the number of remittance centers and tie-ups abroad, phone banking, internet/online banking, bills payment services─as well as competitive service charges and conversion rates provided the incentives for OFWs to course remittances through the formal channels. The level of remittances is expected to increase further as banks remain dynamic in providing innovative remittance and financial services to OFWs, and introduce aggressive marketing programs (including promotional discounts).
Remittances remained strong even as the number of deployed Filipino workers overseas recorded a decline in the first two months of 2007 from the year-ago level. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that total deployment declined by 12.1 percent year-on-year to 170,072. Classified by type of worker, the number of land-based and sea-based workers was lower by 10.1 percent and 18.8 percent to 134,644 and 35,428, respectively.
To date, the U.S.A., Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore remained to be the major sources of remittances. It was noted that 47.1 percent of remittances emanated from the U.S. even as more than 80 percent of OFWs are deployed in the Middle East and Asian countries due to the common practice of remittance centers in various cities abroad to course remittances through correspondent banks mostly located in the U.S.