MANILA, JUNE 16, 2006 (STAR) (AFP) Cash transfers to the Philippines by its large work force abroad rose 10.8 percent in the first four months but they tailed off in April as less Filipinos were deployed overseas, the central bank said Thursday.

Four-month remittances reached 3.7 billion dollars while April transfers grew less than half a percent to 899 million dollars.

The government expects the full-year total to be at least 10 percent above the record remittances of 10.7 billion dollars in 2005.

A central bank statement blamed the April slowdown to lower deployments of Filipino workers abroad.

Preliminary labor department data on "new hires and re-hires from January to April 2006 showed that the total number of deployed workers dropped by 2.7 percent to 359,402" despite an eight percent rise in the number of crew hires by the world's merchant marine fleet, the statement said.

Commercial bank loans up by 1.3 percent in April: BSP 06/15 4:29:35 PM

Commercial bank (KB) loans picked up by 1.3 percent year-on-year to P1.556 trillion as of end-April 2006, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Thursday.

The BSP said this was a turnaround from the 0.5 percent year-on-year decline recorded in the previous month. On a month-on-month basis, KB loans grew by 1.3 percent in April, an upturn from the 1.6 percent decline in the previous month.

Loan growth in April came from the following sectors: financial institutions, real estate and business services (14.0 percent); agriculture, fisheries and forestry (8.0 percent); community, social and personal services sector (3.3 percent); mining and quarrying (2.8 percent); and electricity, gas and water (0.4 percent).

These offset the declines in outstanding loans in the following sectors: construction (-33.2 percent); wholesale and retail trade ( 12.2 percent); transportation, storage, and communication (-9.3 percent); and manufacturing (-2.3 percent).

Overall commercial bank lending activity remains subdued given the sluggish demand for credit by firms and the continued cautious lending stance of banks aimed at reducing their non-performing assets.

Nevertheless, KB lending is expected to continue to rise at a gradual pace as banks continue to see improvements in asset quality.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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