Remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coursed through banks remained above US$1 billion for the 11th straight month since May 2006. Inflows reached US$1.3 billion in March 2007, posting a double-digit year-on-year growth of 26.4 percent. This is the third consecutive month of double-digit growth since the start of 2007. The sustained strength in remittance flows in March brought the first quarter level to US$3.5 billion, 24.0 percent higher than the US$2.8 billion realized in the same period a year ago.
Strong remittances in the first quarter of 2007 were mainly the result of innovative remittance schemes offered by financial institutions, and enhanced links established with foreign counterparts. Over the years, financial institutions have continuously forged tie-ups with remittance centers overseas, thus, increasing access to financial services and facilitating transfers by overseas-based Filipinos to their beneficiaries.
Remittances continued to post significant growth notwithstanding the decline in the number of deployed OFWs during the first quarter of 2007 in contrast to the level recorded a year ago. Preliminary first quarter 2007 data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the total number of deployed workers contracted year-on-year by 10.6 percent to 251,009. The aggregate numbers of land-based and sea-based workers at 191,937 and 59,072, respectively, were lower by 9.2 percent and 14.8 percent compared to the levels a year ago. However, the profile of deployed workers has been changing, with the deployment of more professionals and higher-paid workers in the field of medical and healthcare, information technology, education, maritime, hotel and food industries, among others. The deployment outlook continues to be favorable as Filipino workers’ competence and technical skills, as well as high degree of trainability support the manpower demands of host economies. Continuing bilateral discussions and negotiations being undertaken by the Government with major labor-receiving countries are also expected to sustain the strong remittance trend.
Overall, the major sources of remittances during the quarter were the U.S.A., Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Hong Kong. During the quarter, significant increments in remittances were recorded from Filipinos based in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and the U.K.