Remittances of overseas Filipinos (OFs) coursed through banks reached US$7.0 billion in the first half of 2007, 18.1 percent higher than the level recorded in the same period in 2006. In June, remittances amounted to US$1.1 billion. This marks the 14th straight month that remittances have been above US$1 billion.
The high level of remittances during the first semester of 2007 can be attributed to the provision by banks of more efficient remittance transfer services and the expanding number of remittance centers and tie-ups abroad. As a result, the access of OFs and their beneficiaries to the various financial services offered by banks has expanded, therefore encouraging their use of the banking system as the conduit for their remittance transactions as well as for their savings and investment activities.
Remittances remained strong even as the number of deployed Filipino workers has declined. Preliminary data obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the total number of deployed workers contracted by 5.1 percent to 546,212 in the first half of 2007 relative to the level in the same period a year ago. Classified by type of worker, the number of land-based and sea-based workers declined by 3.2 percent (to 422,262) and 11.1 percent (to 123,950), respectively, from the levels during the comparable period a year ago. The deployment of Filipino workers is expected to pick up in the near term as the Government, together with the private sector, continue to pursue efforts to intensify worker training and skills development. In particular, last month, the Department of Labor and Employment announced that it launched a new Maritime Office that aims to ensure the Philippines’ leadership in shipmanning through efforts to boost the competitiveness and promote the welfare of Filipino seafarers.
To date, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong remained to be the major sources of remittances.