Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coursed through commercial banks reached US$866 million in February 2006, or a year-on-year growth of 11.6 percent over the same month in 2005. Remittances for the first two months of 2006 totaled US$1.8 billion from US$1.6 billion posted a year ago.
The higher level of remittances during the review period was partly attributed to commercial banks’ expansion of banking services. Commercial banks, remaining at the forefront of providing means of remittance transfers, heightened their marketing campaign by offering various telemoney products and services (e.g. phone-banking, internet/online banking, bills payment services) specifically in Hong Kong, USA, Italy, UK as well as strengthened tie-ups with foreign money transfer agents and non-bank channels.
These activities by commercial banks overshadowed the decline in the total number of deployed overseas workers. Preliminary figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) indicated that for the first two months of 2006, the total number of deployed land-based workers contracted by almost 10 percent to 134,436 while the number of sea-based workers rose by 5.9 percent to 41,595. However, the increased deployment of highly-skilled, thus, higher-paid land-based workers such as engineers, teachers, ship and pilot/aircraft officers, production related workers and service providers more than compensated for the decline in the total number of deployed land-based workers.
To maintain competitiveness of OFWs, the government pursued programs that will strengthen workers’ technical training and education to enhance job-skills matching.
The major sources of remittances remained to be the U.S.A., Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, U.K., United Arab Emirates and Singapore.