Filipinos working abroad sent home a record $14.4 billion in 2007, a 13.2 percent increase over the previous year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said yesterday.
The figure slightly exceeded the government forecast of $14.3 billion.
December inflows rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier to a record $1.4 billion as Filipinos working abroad sent home more money for Christmas and New Year spending.
The remittances accounted for about 10 percent of the country’s nominal 2007 gross domestic product, a central bank statement said.
Remittance growth may slow to 10 percent this year as global economic growth cools, central bank Gov. Amando Tetangco said earlier. The International Monetary Fund last month cut its forecast for 2008 global growth to 4.1 percent from an October estimate of 4.4 percent.
Continued demand abroad for Filipino workers and enhanced remittance services provided by banks and non-bank remittance agents accounted for the increase, it added.
It cited labor department data that showed 1.073 million Filipinos went to work abroad last year, up 1.0 percent from 2006. Deployment of land-based workers grew 2.8 percent to 809,740 while sea-based personnel dipped 4 percent to 263,662. The number of Filipinos who left to work overseas rose 20.8 percent to 73,643 in December from a year earlier, according to the statement.
Professionals and skilled workers accounted for the bulk of deployed new hires, while permit problems slowed the employment of Filipino merchant sailors.
The bank said employment prospects for overseas workers in the near term “remain favorable” despite a looming US slowdown “following indications of continued demand from [other] labor-importing countries such as Canada, Australia, Middle East [states], South Korea, and Taiwan.” It said major countries of destination in 2007 included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Taiwan, with professionals and skilled workers accounting for the bulk of deployed new hires.
Funds sent home by the one in 10 Filipinos working overseas helped the economy expand at the fastest pace in 31 years in 2007 by buoying consumer spending. The IMF says there are “natural limits” to the reliance on labor exports and more investment is needed if the Philippines is to move to a “decisively stronger” growth path.
Remittances are equivalent to about a 10th of the $117-billion Philippine economy. The central bank said employment opportunities were in construction, information technology, engineering, architecture and hotel/restaurant service.
Some banks have attributed the rise in remittances to an increase in the individual transactions to make up for the stronger peso.
Source: Manila Standard Online, by Eileen A. Mencias, with AFP and Bloomberg, 17 February 2008