Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in January 2004 reached US$618 million, 5.8 percent lower compared to the US$657 million posted in the comparable month in 2003. This developed even as the total number of deployed workers rose by 23.3 percent in January 2003 over last year’s level. The lower remittances could be partly attributed to the volatility in the foreign exchange (FX) market during the month which could have encouraged OFWs to delay dollar remittances on expectations of further peso depreciation, thereby allowing them higher peso equivalent for their remittances.
The improving economic outlook in the host economies has been contributory to the increase in the deployment of Filipino workers. Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on new hires and rehires showed that the total number of Filipinos deployed in January 2004 reached 118, 879 from only 96,435 in the same month in 2003. Land-based workers grew by 28.7 percent to 100,736, while sea-based workers declined by 0.7 percent to 18,143. Land-based is comprised largely of professional/ technical (32.7 percent), service (34.8 percent) and production related (25.4 percent) workers. This trend is considered a positive indication of higher OFW remittances moving forward. As the foreign exchange market stabilizes after the May 2004 election, incentives from OFW to delay their remittances are expected to ease, resulting in higher total OFW remittances.
The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan remained to be the major sources of OFW remittances.