MANILA, December 6, 2005
 (STAR) By Rica D. Delfinado - The peso strengthened anew yesterday, breaking past the 54 to a dollar barrier on speculation Filipinos working abroad are increasing the amount of money they send home for the yearend holiday season.

At the Philippine Dealing System (PDS), the peso gained 18 centavos to settle at 53.975 from Friday’s close of 54.155 to $1.

The last time the peso touched the 53 level was on Nov. 29 when it closed at 53.945 to the dollar.

The peso opened at 54.220 before hitting a high of 53.970 and a low of 53.975 to $1. Transaction volume was heavy at $502.50 million on an average rate of 54.071 to $1.

Filipinos overseas sent home a record $941 million in September, bringing remittances for the first nine months of the year to $7.9 billion, 28 percent more than a year ago, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported earlier.

The remittances account for a 10th of the country’s economy.

"The remittances is a very big factor for the flow of money for the Philippines," said Ichiro Ikeda, a currency and commodities salesman at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Tokyo. "Demand for the peso increases toward the yearend," he added.

About 7.4 million Filipinos work outside the country as nurses, seamen and household helpers.

The Philippines ranks third, after Mexico and India, in the amount of money sent home by workers abroad, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The BSP expects remittances from OFWs coursed through banks to hit a record of $10.43 billion by year’s end or 20 percent higher than inflows in 2004.

VIEW FROM THE PALACE (For the week ending December 04, 2005)

Patriotic Filipinos in all corners of the world bolstering our economy

Patriotic Filipinos in all corners of the world are bolstering our economy by sending in the bulk of their hard-earned dollars to their families. This year, we expect a record inward remittance of 12 billion dollars. This would make our overseas Filipinos, (OFWs and FilAms combined), our number two exports, after electronics.

We take exception, however, to comments that the increase in overseas remittance has fostered complacency in addressing domestic productivity and growth.

The President has a clearly laid out economic plan that is being implemented within schedule. The economy is being propelled by overseas remittances, external confidence and domestic productivity. The net result in the future will be more high-paying jobs to keep talented Filipinos at home. Our tough economic reform measures are a strong start in helping us achieve first world status in 20 years.

Relief for our workers 

Last Friday, Secretary Pat Sto. Tomas submitted to the Office of the President DOLE’s non-wage recommendations on how to stretch the income of the minimum wage earner. The recommendations were arrived at in consultation with several other departments including the departments of finance, agriculture, health, trade, and transportation.

The recommendations of the labor department will be closely studied by the President and the Cabinet. We are fully aware of the urgency of this matter and the need for reasonable forms of relief for our workers that would be consonant with the overall national interest.

Meanwhile, in the last Cabinet meeting, the President instructed Budget Secretary Romy Neri to take steps to ensure that the traditional yearend bonus for government workers is given. Neri is just awaiting final submission by the line agencies of their individual departmental savings.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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