By: Doris C. Dumlao
16 February 2006
MONEY remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coursed through commercial banks continued to post double-digit growth in December, bringing total remittances for 2005 to $10.7 billion, up 25 percent from 2004, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, the central bank) reported Wednesday.
It was the first time that OFW inflows breached the $10-billion mark, equivalent to about half of the central bank's international reserves.
In 2004, OFW remittances sent through the banking system amounted to $8.6 billion, up from $7.6 billion in 2003 and $6.9 billion in 2002.
In December-- a peak period for OFW remittances, given needs for Christmas spending -- cash transfers amounted to $967 million, up 10.7 percent from a year earlier, the BSP reported.
Including inflows coursed through non-bank channels -- including OFWs' friends and other travelers -- OFW remittances last year were estimated at $12.3 billion.
Preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed newly hired and rehired OFWs last year numbered 981,677, up 5.2 percent from 2004.
Land-based OFWs increased 4.2 percent to 733,970 and sea-based workers increased 8.2 percent to 247,707. the data showed.
The government, in cooperation with the private sector, conducts marketing missions to promote OFW deployment and identify employment opportunities for Filipino workers. It has programs that include pre-departure training, computer literacy, seafarers' training in strict compliance with international maritime standards.
Deployment of highly skilled and therefore higher-paid Filipino workers, including engineers, teachers, and nurses and other medical workers, also contributed to the high level of OFW money remittances in 2005.
Banks have opened more remittance centers and established tie-ups abroad. They have introduced enhanced means of cash transfers to reach out to a wider range of Filipinos working overseas.
The bulk of OFW money remittances come from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
Families of OFWs use the money for education, health, and small businesses. With INQ7.net