THE GOOD NEWS:  OFW REMITTANCES HIT $4 BILLION IN FIRST 6 MONTHS OF 2004

MANILA, August 15 , 2004 (from the Office of Press Secretary, Malacanang))  -  Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) reached $4 billion during the first six months of 2004, up by 2.6 percent from the $3.8 billion in the same period in 2003.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data also showed that OFW remittances improved to $706 million in June, up by 19.41 percent from $591 million in the same month last year.

The total remittances in the six-month period reversed the year-on-year declines in April and May, the BSP said.

BSP officer-in-charge Amando Tetangco Jr., attributed the growth of dollar remittances in June, to the increase in the number of OFWs deployed in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), meanwhile, said the total number of Filipino workers abroad grew by 9.2 percent year-on-year to 501,713 in the first semester. Latest official estimates placed the number of OFWs worldwide at seven to eight million.

Tetangco said a factor in improving dollar inflows to the country is the local commercial banks’ move to establish new remittance centers abroad.

With the improved dollar inflows, the BSP is optimistic that remittances by yearend would reach $8.1 billion, or six percent higher than last year’s $7.6 billion.

"The favorable first semester performance provides greater optimism that the projected six percent growth in remittances for 2004 can be met," Tetangco said.

Tetangco pointed out that the increased fund transfers from Hongkong, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and the United States compensated for the decline in remittances from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Remittances for the January-June period came mostly from the US, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan.

The number of OFWs has increased by almost 25 times over the past 30 years. The seven to eight million OFWs figure constitutes 25 percent of the country’s total labor force, and 10 percent of its population, respectively.

The OFWs’ remittances, which is equivalent to about one-fifth of the country’s total exports, also make up roughly 1/12th of the Gross National Product (GNP).

Remittances of OFWs have a multiplier effect in spurring economic growth in the country as beneficiaries invest the money in banks, real estate properties, and small and medium enterprises.

An increase in remittances could also prop up the peso, which remains undervalued because of rising oil prices as well as contribute to the recovery of the peso, Tetangco said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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