MANILA, January 15, 2005 (STAR) By Des Ferriols  -  Remittances by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) grew by 11 percent during the first 11 months of 2004, bringing the total to $7.7 billion.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said yesterday that last year’s remittances would surpass the six-percent growth projection as OFW inflows in November alone grew by 27.7 percent to reach $740 million.

The BSP said the continued rise in OFW remittances from the comparable period last year was attributed to the growing demand for Filipino workers abroad and the seasonal transfers for the holiday season.

The BSP said the increase was also due in part to the aggressive marketing by commercial banks that have been competing vigorously for increased shares in the remittance business from OFWs deployed in the major labor markets abroad.

BSP Governor Rafael Buenaventura told reporters that despite the increased competition from other labor-exporting countries, Filipino workers were still heavily favored over other nationalities because of their track record, training and proficiency.

Preliminary data on new hires and rehires from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that for the first 11 months of 2004 total deployed workers grew 1.3 percent to 811,773 from 801,351 last year.

The number of sea-based workers went up by 3.6 percent to 208,091 from its year-ago level while land-based workers rose marginally by 0.5 percent to 603,682.

The BSP reported that local commercial banks, on the other hand, pursued vigorous marketing efforts to promote their money transfer services by expanding their network of remittance centers.

Buenaventura said banks have also been expanding their tie-ups with foreign financial counterparts and increasing the efficient delivery of services to OFWs.

Buenaventura said the November figure also reflected the seasonal increase in OFW remittances ahead of the holiday season which helped boost remittance flows during the review period.

Buenaventura reported that the bulk of OFW remittances came from the USA, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Japan, UK, Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates – countries that have been the consistent major sources of remittance flows during the period.

The November surge in OFW remittances helped offset the decline in the country’s gross international reserves for the month which dropped to $15.817 billion as of end-November 2004.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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