Remittances of overseas Filipinos (OFs) coursed through banks for the period January-May 2007 rose to US$5.9 billion, 21.9 percent higher than the level posted in the same period in 2006. Remittances in May 2007 was strong at US$1.2 billion. This marks the 13th consecutive month that remittances are above the US$1 billion mark. However, remittances in May grew by 8.4 percent year-on-year, a deceleration from the double-digit growth realized in the same month last year. The slowdown in growth during the month can be attributed primarily to the base effect following the sharp increase in remittances in May 2006.
The robust growth of remittances year-to-date was due largely to technological innovations introduced by financial institutions that serve as conduits for remittance transfers. These efficient modes of remittance transfers, combined with the increasing number of remittance centers and tie-ups abroad, expanded the banks’ coverage to service the needs of OFs and their beneficiaries.
As a result of these measures and other initiatives to facilitate remittance flows through formal channels, remittances remained strong even as the number of deployed Filipino workers contracted for the first five months of 2007. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that total deployment at 457,531 from January-May 2007 was lower by 4.4 percent relative to the year-ago level. Classified by type of worker, the total number of land-based and sea-based workers in the year to date was 355,389 and 102,142, respectively. These were lower by 1.8 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively, compared to the levels in the same period last year. On a monthly basis, however, total deployment recovered in May relative to the level in same period last year due mainly to the pick-up in the deployment of land-based workers. Over the medium-term, the deployment of Filipino workers is expected to rise as labor importing countries such as the Middle East, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore employ more skilled overseas workers to meet the demands of their growing economies. These countries are expected to provide employment opportunities for highly-skilled and professional workers, particularly in the construction, information technology, hotel and restaurant, tourism, shipbuilding/ship repair, medical and healthcare sectors.
During the review period, the bulk of remittances originated from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Japan and Hong Kong.