Remittances of overseas Filipinos (OFs) coursed through banks climbed to US$1.2 billion in April 2007, higher by 32.6 percent year-on-year. This was the twelfth consecutive month that remittance flows exceeded US$1 billion. The continued strong growth in remittances since the start of the year brought the four-month cumulative level to US$4.7 billion, an increase of 26.1 percent over the level posted in the same period last year.
Remittance inflows were facilitated by easier access of overseas Filipinos to formal remittance channels. In particular, the high level of remittances was supported by the increased presence of remittance agents abroad through the establishment of overseas centers as well as tie-ups with other remittance companies and financial institutions abroad. Increasing access to formal remittance channels was complemented by the enhanced services offered by banks allowing for more efficient delivery of remittance transfers to beneficiaries. The launch of the BSP’s OFW Portal in March 2007, which provides access to websites of major commercial banks, has helped further enhance the transparency of banks’ remittance services and investment products, which in turn has encouraged competition among banks. This initiative has allowed overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries to shop for more efficient service providers and the most competitively-priced services and products.
Remittances remained high even as the number of deployed overseas Filipino workers declined during the first four months of 2007 relative to the level recorded a year ago. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for the first four months of 2007 showed that the total number of deployed workers contracted year-on-year by 7.8 percent to 343,397, in spite of the pick-up in deployment for April. On a year-to-date basis, the aggregate number of land-based and sea-based workers at 263,324 and 80,073, respectively, were 6.3 percent and 12.3 percent lower compared to the number of deployed workers a year ago. The drop in deployment may be partly attributed to the new hiring policy of Saudi Arabia requiring Saudi-bound workers to secure “no objection certificates” from their previous employers as part of entry requirements. This new requirement was imposed to ensure that workers complied with their previous employment contract.
Looking ahead, remittances are expected to remain strong due to the increasing demand for highly-skilled and professional Filipinos, particularly in the fields of information technology, healthcare, hotel and restaurant, construction and shipbuilding industries.
The bulk of remittances continued to come from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong.