MANILA, July 2, 2005
 (STAR) Filipinos working or living abroad have become a substantial subset of the Filipino society with their remittances contributing some 9.2 percent of the country's gross national product (GNP).

Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said Saturday there are now about 8.1 million Filipinos living or working in 194 countries and territories all over the world.

The overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and migrants, she said, now make up almost 10 percent of the total Philippine population.

Of the total, 3.2 million are permanently living abroad while 3.6 million are temporarily working overseas. Irregular Filipino workers overseas, on the other hand, are estimated to constitute some 1.3 million.

Sto. Tomas said the overseas Filipinos, including migrants remitting dollars to their kin in the Philippines infused into the economy in 2004 a total of 8.5 billion US dollars, which is roughly 9.2 percent of the GNP during that year.

She said that at least six percent of Filipino families are receiving income from abroad; six out of 10 of these families reside in urban areas and are relatively better off.

Today, she added, migrant workers and their families are looked upon as the emerging middle class and being accorded respect by the local community.

"At the same time, overseas employment is pivotal in easing the pressure on the local labor market," she said.

With overseas employment and the attendant infusion of OFWs remittances, the country managed to generate a consumption-led economic growth amidst recession and high unemployment, Sto. Tomas further said.

IMF still backing GMA's fiscal consolidation program 07/02 3:00:28 PM

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Friday cited the "tremendous" progress made by the Arroyo administration in its drive to put its fiscal house in order.

In a farewell call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at Malacañang, outgoing IMF resident representative to the Philippines Vikram Haksar also cited the determination of the administration to take even such unpopular steps as the implementation of the expanded value-added tax (VAT) law, to be able to solve the country’s debt problem.

"We’ve seen tremendous progress in the implementation of the fiscal consolidation program of your government," Haksar told the President.

Haksar practically repeated the recent observation of his boss, IMF deputy managing director Agustin Carstens who even assured Pres. Arroyo that the IMF would echo around the international investment community the strides gained by the Philippine government towards fiscal consolidation.

In a meeting at the Palace in late May, Carstens noted the fast pace in the enactment of key economic measures aimed at improving the government cash flow, as he recognized the difficulty in democratic countries to have such important bills passed into law.

"I think this is very important and we will communicate this to the rest of the world," Carstens said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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