Cumulative remittances of overseas Filipinos (OF) coursed through banks were stronger-than-expected in 2009, growing year-on-year by 5.6 percent to US$17.3 billion, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Officer-In-Charge Diwa C. Guinigundo announced today. The 2009 level exceeded the BSP’s forecast of US$17.1 billion remittance flows or a 4.0 percent growth for the year. Remittances from sea-based and land-based workers rose by 12.1 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. For the month of December 2009 alone, remittances grew by 11.4 percent, registering the highest level at US$1.6 billion.
Remittances remained resilient amid the recent global financial crisis, providing strong support to domestic demand. The remittance level for the year accounted for 10.8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The steady remittance flows from overseas Filipinos were underpinned by the following factors: i) the sustained demand for Filipino workers overseas, specifically the skilled workers such as engineers, medical practitioners and teachers; ii) the conduct of bilateral talks with host countries which continue to open up new employment opportunities abroad for Filipinos and facilitate hiring of displaced workers who were affected by the global economic difficulties; and iii) the continued expansion of bank and non-bank service providers’ international and domestic market coverage to capture a larger share of the global remittance market as well as the introduction of innovative products and services that cater to remitters’ specific needs. As of end-December 2009, commercial banks’ established tie-ups, remittance centers, correspondent banks and branches/representative offices abroad increased to 4,192 from 3,015 at end-2008.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported that 41.6 percent (or 221,548) of the total approved job orders of 532,214 in 2009 were processed during the year, possibly adding to the stock of remitters. Processed job orders comprised mainly of service, production, and professional, technical and related job categories needed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Hong Kong. The remaining 58.4 percent are still to be filled up. The geographical diversification of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has also contributed to the resilience of remittance flows. Since not all host countries were severely affected by the global financial crisis, Middle East countries (Saudi Arabia, in particular, which is the major destination of OFWs) continue to absorb a significant number of deployed OFWs, including those that have been displaced elsewhere.
For the period January-December 2009, the major sources of remittances were the U.S., Canada, Saudi Arabia, U.K., Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Italy, and Germany.