Remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) coursed through banks reached a record high of US$1.5 billion in March 2009, representing a 3.1 percent year-on-year growth, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. announced today. This brought the cumulative remittances in the first quarter of 2009 to US$4.1 billion, or an annual growth of 2.7 percent. Remittances from sea-based and land-based workers for the three-month period registered increases of 5.5 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively.
Remittance flows continued to be shored up by the steady labor demand for Filipino skills abroad, and the wider access to expanded money transfer services by overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries. While concerns remain over the impact of the prevailing global economic crisis on the deployment of Filipino workers abroad, an assessment of the labor market situation by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) points to sustained demand for workers overseas. Apart from the double-digit growth (27.3 percent) in the number of deployed overseas Filipino workers in the first two months of the year, the POEA reported that of the total active job orders as of 12 May 2009, almost 37 percent (279,889) have been processed while the remaining 63 percent are still to be filled up. The bulk of the job orders were in the production, services, and professional skill categories.
Philippine overseas labor offices have also reported new job opportunities in markets that have not been severely affected by the global financial strains. In addition to the labor accords that have been signed between the Philippine government and some host countries (e.g., Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea, and some Middle East countries such as Qatar), prospective employment awaits Filipino workers in Algeria, particularly, in construction projects that would require professional and skilled workers. Governor Tetangco also noted the report of the BSP team that recently conducted a financial learning campaign for OFWs in Saudi Arabia which indicated continued demand for overseas workers as the Kingdom gears up for the construction of megacities. These developments provide continued optimism for stability in remittances, notwithstanding the displacement of some OFWs as a result of the global economic crisis. DOLE’s latest labor statistics showed that the increase in the number of displaced OFWs has slowed down as the government intensified its efforts to directly assist the displaced OFWs find alternative jobs in emerging markets and in countries that are least affected by the crisis.
For the period January-March 2009, the major sources of remittances were the U.S., Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, U.K., Singapore, Italy, United Arab Emirates, and Germany.