Remittances of overseas Filipinos coursed through banks continued to be above the billion-dollar mark, at US$1.3 billion in August 2008. As a result, year-to-date remittances totaled nearly US$11 billion (at US$10.9 billion). The remittance level for the first eight months was 17.2 percent higher compared to the level recorded in the same period a year ago. Remittances in August 2008, however, grew at a slower pace of 10.4 percent compared to previous months.
While the ongoing global economic slowdown could put some dent on the growth of remittances, particularly from those advanced countries that would be most affected by the strains in the global financial markets, Officer-in-Charge Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. observed that remittances will continue to provide strong support to the economy for a number of reasons. First, demand for Filipino workers overseas has been on an uptrend. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that, for the first eight months of 2008, the number of Filipinos deployed abroad reached 884,907, 26.4 percent higher than the level a year ago (699,937). Newly-hired Filipinos were mostly deployed to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait) and Asia (Taiwan and Hong Kong). The ongoing conduct of talks with potential foreign employers combined with the increasing deployment of highly-skilled, therefore higher-paid Filipino workers (such as engineers, medical practitioners, production-related workers, hotel staff) continued to buoy the demand for Filipino manpower and the level of remittances.
Second, Filipino workers overseas and their families have gained greater access to enhanced banking services provided by local banks and their foreign counterparts. The increased access to formal channels by overseas Filipinos has been made possible by the establishment of more remittance centers and tie-ups abroad by local banks, OIC Espenilla added.
For the period January-August, remittances came largely from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, U.K., Italy, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.