"Remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) coursed through banks managed to post a 0.1 percent growth in January 2009 despite the challenging external environment," BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. reported. Remittances during the month remained above a billion-dollar mark at US$1.3 billion. It was noted that the increase in remittances from sea-based workers counterbalanced the contraction in remittances from land-based workers, mainly from the US. The January growth, however, was lower compared to the 15.0 percent growth a year-ago.
The slowdown in deployment beginning November 2008 (and the subsequent contraction in December by 5.8 percent), and the reported displacement of some land-based Filipino workers (OFWs) in some countries due to the global economic downturn contributed to the very modest increase in remittances in January.
While there are mounting concerns about the effects of the recessionary conditions in the global economy on the continued employment of Filipino workers abroad, latest data on overseas deployment for January 2009 provided some optimism for stability if not a pick-up in remittances next month. Preliminary data obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that the total number of deployed overseas workers in January 2009 grew year-on-year by 25.3 percent to 165,737 from 132,285 a year-ago. The double-digit growth in the number of deployed OFWs is expected to add to the base of potential remitters moving forward.
Also providing support for the sustained deployment of OFWs is the POEA’s report on employment opportunities in some host countries which have forged hiring agreements with the Philippines such as Canada, Australia, Japan and in selected Middle-East countries like Qatar, specifically in healthcare, education, power/energy, and real estate sectors.
Meanwhile, in line with national efforts on jobs facilitation and preservation, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has sent labor teams in crisis-affected host countries like South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai) to help displaced Filipino migrant workers find alternative jobs within the same country or in the region of employment. The labor teams also aim to tap other work opportunities for displaced workers by profiling their skills for possible job matching and referral to other companies in the host countries.
For January 2009, the major sources of remittances were the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Canada, Singapore, Japan, U.K., Italy, and United Arab Emirates.