Remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) coursed through banks surged to US$1.3 billion in January 2008. On a year-on-year basis, remittances in January grew by 15.0 percent, considerably higher than the growth rates registered in November and December last year. Monthly remittance flows have been surpassing the US$1 billion mark since May 2006. OF remittances coursed through banks are estimated to reach US$15.7 billion in 2008.
The robust foreign exchange inflows from OF remittances at the start of the year could be traced in part to the acceleration in the deployment of Filipino workers. Preliminary data obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the total number of deployed overseas workers grew year-on-year by 12.4 percent in January 2008. Classified by type of worker, the number of deployed land-based workers grew 12.3 percent to 88,775 while that of sea-based workers rose by 13.2 percent to 19,804. Continued preference for and confidence in the professional competence and skills of Filipino manpower support the view that a high level of remittances could be sustained in the months ahead.
The rise in remittance flows early in 2008 was also the result of banks and non-bank remittance agents’ intensified efforts to provide efficient transfer mechanisms for on-time delivery of remittances and to widen their network through the establishment of more remittance centers abroad and tie-ups with foreign financial counterparts. The recently concluded agreement between a local telecommunications service provider and a financial institution in Saudi Arabia is expected to further facilitate the electronic transfer of remittances.
The U.S., Saudi Arabia, the U.K., Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong remain to be the major sources of remittances.