Remittances from overseas Filipino workers in March 2004 rose year-on-year by 10 percent to reach US$705 million. This brought the first quarter remittances to US$1.9 billion, or 4.3 percent higher than the US$1.8 billion in the same quarter last year. The first quarter favorable performance provides comfortable buffer to the projected 3 percent growth of remittances for the whole of 2004. In fact, the last two months of the quarter each yielded almost 10 percent annual growth in remittances.
The growth in remittances in the first quarter of 2004 was attributed to a number of factors, namely: (1) weaker peso which reached its lowest level in March that allowed higher conversion value of foreign exchange remittances; (2) seasonal remittances in time for school enrollment; and (3) the observed 18.9 percent increase in the deployment of Filipino workers abroad to 281,526 from 236,699 in the same quarter in 2003. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration data showed the number of land-based workers grew by 23.8 percent to 224,433 while sea-based workers rose by 3.0 percent to 57,093.
Increased fund transfers from Hong Kong, U.S., United Kingdom and Italy were observed during the reference quarter, which more than compensated for the slack in remittances from other traditional labor markets such as Japan and Singapore. Except for Hong Kong, the aforementioned countries are the usual destinations of higher-paid workers (e.g., caretakers/caregivers, nurses, IT workers, office managers, clerks).