Thursday, August 04, 2005

OFW remittances to hit $12-B this year

By Donnabelle Gatdula
The Philippine Star

The government is optimistic that remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will hit an all-time high of $12 billion this year. As of last May 31, OFW remittance had reached $4 billion, or 19.2 percent higher than the $3.3 billion posted during the same period last year.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director for planning and policy research Dennis Arroyo, who was one of the speakers in the Eagle Watch Economic and Political Briefing held at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City yesterday, said there were indications that the high level of OFW remittances would be maintained for the rest of the year.

He did not elaborate, though, on the OFW remittance targets for the year. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo, who was also a speaker at the briefing, said they would rather stick to the 10-percent growth rate for OFW remittances this year, although there are indications of a possible higher growth of 19 percent.

"It could grow by more than 10 percent but we have not changed our targets," he said. The strong remittances were traced to an increase in the deployment of higher-paid professionals, as well as greater access of OFWs to remittance channels within the country's banking system. In 2004, OFW remittances reached $8.5 billion. Meanwhile, Guinigundo said the 10-percent import growth projection for 2005 was still achievable.

The BSP official pointed out that the request of the Department of Finance to review the import growth target of 10 percent for the year may be premature. "We have to wait for other data to come in. There is a task force organized to introduce these corrections.

I think there is no need to adjust import targets until the task force comes out with actual figures," Guinigundo said. Another government official said that according to the Development Budget and Coordinating Council the macro-assumptions for this year would be maintained.

Inflation rate, he said, would still be at 7.9 percent in 2005 and 7.6 percent in 2006 assuming that the growth rate would be four to five percent. #

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