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Remittances hit $2.6-B in 2 months, up 2.5%


By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN

April 15, 2009, 6:45pm [ Manila Bulletin Online ]

Overseas Filipinos cash transfers reached $2.58 billion in the first two months of the year, up 2.49 percent year-on-year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said Wednesday. For the month of February, remittances totaled $1.32 billion, up 4.34 percent from January’s $1.26 billion. These funds come from overseas Filipinos based in the US, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

According to BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., “remittances have been holding up as deployment of overseas Filipino workers has risen during the first two months of the year while the increase in the number of reported layoffs has slowed down.” The number of deployed workers totaled 283,348 in the first two months, up by 27.3 percent from the same period last year of 222,608. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration expects deployment will remain on the stable side. On the average, there are at least a million new workers leaving the country every year.

BSP said the Department of Labor are seeing new workers contracts from South Korea, for example, and the government is in the process of renewing the employment permit system (EPS) with that country, possibly in May. The EPS will give Filipinos first crack in finding employment in South Korea.

The central bank said other employment opportunities are currently being discussed with the governments of Canada, Japan, Australia and some Middle East nations including Qatar.

Job opportunities are in the healthcare, education, real estate and the power/energy sectors. “(The) government has intensified its efforts to re-deploy retrenched Filipino workers to countries that have not been severely affected by the global financial turmoil,” said the central bank.

BSP said Saudi Arabia and Libya are expected to continue to hire workers in the construction and healthcare sectors while relocation of a US naval base from Japan to Guam next year will also open up contracts for overseas Filipinos. For 2009, the BSP is forecasting flat growth for remittances or $16.4 billion.

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