MANILA, MAY 16, 2008
(STAR) By Des Ferriols - Remittances from overseas Filipinos rose 9.4 percent to hit $1.4 billion in March, an all-time record for a single month.

This brought the inflows for the first three months of the year to $4 billion, or 13.2 percent higher than last year’s level.

The BSP said remittances have been supported by an increase in the number of Filipinos working abroad, the shifts in skill composition as well as the growing efficiency of banks and other financial institutions as remittance channels.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said the number of deployed workers for the first three months continued to grow, with preliminary data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showing a rise of 13.6 percent to 263,129 from 231,647 a year ago.

Classified by type of worker, Tetangco said the number of land-based workers grew by 11.7 percent during the three-month period to 200,398 while the number of sea-based workers rose by 20.1 percent to 62,731. Tetangco said OFW remittances were also strengthened by additional tie-ups established by domestic banks and other local remittance companies with foreign financial institutions to promote a faster and more efficient delivery of remittances.

The BSP reported that the significant portion of remittances continued to come from the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Remittances coursed through formal channels are expected to rise almost nine percent to $15.7 billion in 2008.

The BSP, however, has mounting concern over the possibility that the Philippines could land back in the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force on Anti Money-laundering, making the country’s financial transactions, especially remittances, a target for costly scrutiny.

The World Bank and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering are scheduled to conduct a joint evaluation of the Philippines in October this year.

The Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) is still tangled in a legal tussle with the Supreme Court over a decision that prevented the council from conducting bank inquiries without informing account holders.

The FATF blacklist has been empty since countries complied with FATF standards but officials fear that recent developments could make the Philippines the first and only country to be removed and reinstated for insufficient application of FATF recommendations.

The APG and the Financial Action Task Force both conduct periodic reviews that examine compliance with international anti-money laundering standards.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved