NEWS ANALYSIS: PESO WEAKENS AS REMITTANCES FROM OFWs SURGE

The peso, the country's local currency, has weakened to a three-year low on Wednesday
as dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) surged to
an all-time high in November last year. The local currency closed at P45 pesos to $1 on Wednesday from 44.815:1 the day before. This was the weakest since Sept. 1, 2010, the last time when the currency was at the 45:1 level. Government data show that retail sales in the US rose by a stronger-than-expected 0.2 percent last December. This has bolstered expectations that the US Federal Reserve would accelerate the pace of tapering its bond-buying program to allow interest rates to rise from their record lows. According to Amando M. Tetangco, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country's central bank, the movement of the peso is being influenced by a lot of factors, including the uncertainty about the speed and the duration of the Fed tapering of its stimulus program.

ALSO: Top labor exporter PH may use foreign workers to plug shortfall

The Philippines, one of the world’s top labor-exporting nations, is suffering shortages in more than one hundred occupations and is considering proposals to hire skilled foreign workers, officials said Thursday. Large numbers of Filipinos are leaving the country in search of work abroad, but there is now such a skills serious shortage in some professions at home — including architecture, aviation, and chemical engineering — that the government may have to bring in outsiders. “There is a request from industry recommending… opening 15 categories of highly skilled occupations to possible foreign employment on account of shortages in local supply,” President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said. In the category of skilled labor, employers said there were 40 “hard-to-fill” jobs, and asked the government to allow 15 professions to be filled by foreign hires, she said in a statement. Other roles in the list of 15 that could be filled by immigrants include chemists, environmental planners, guidance counselors, librarians, and assembly technicians. “By ensuring the continued availability of qualified workers, we are making our industries competitive,” Baldoz added, while stressing that the needs are temporary.


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News Analysis: Peso weakens as remittances from OFWs surge

MANILA, JANUARY 20, 2014 (PHILSTAR) (Xinhua) - The peso, the country's local currency, has weakened to a three-year low on Wednesday as dollar remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) surged to an all-time high in November last year.

The local currency closed at P45 pesos to $1 on Wednesday from 44.815:1 the day before. This was the weakest since Sept. 1, 2010, the last time when the currency was at the 45:1 level.

Government data show that retail sales in the US rose by a stronger-than-expected 0.2 percent last December. This has bolstered expectations that the US Federal Reserve would accelerate the pace of tapering its bond-buying program to allow interest rates to rise from their record lows.

According to Amando M. Tetangco, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country's central bank, the movement of the peso is being influenced by a lot of factors, including the uncertainty about the speed and the duration of the Fed tapering of its stimulus program.

Tetangco said there are also the still-remaining questions about the ability
of Europe to achieve economic growth and continue with the financial sector reforms that they have started to implement.

The inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee ( DBCC), which sets the government's official macroeconomic assumptions, expects the peso to average between P41 and P43 to a dollar this year, implying that the currency should strengthen from its current level later in the year.

Tetangco said that stable consumer prices and above-trend economic growth would also help protect the economy from external shocks.

"If you look at the region, our currency has not depreciated the most or appreciated the most. In terms of volatility, we are also in the middle," Tetangco said.

Tetangco stressed that the Philippines' macroeconomic fundamentals remained sound, citing the country's robust balance- of-payments surplus and ample reserves - both supported by remittances from overseas Filipino workers.

Growth in remittances rose as expected OFWs with families in the Visayas sent home more money to fund reconstruction efforts following super-typhoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) that hit a wide swath in Central Philippines on Nov.8 last year.

The BSP reported Wednesday that remittances for the month of November reached record high as improving economic conditions abroad fueled higher demand for OFW labor.

"The steady deployment of OFWs remained the key driver of growth in remittance flows," Tetangco said in a statement.

There are now more than 10 million Filipinos working in foreign countries, mostly in the Middle East.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration ( POEA) show that approved orders for OFWs stood at 731,254, of which 43.2 percent were processed job orders mainly for services, production, professional, technical and related workers.

These job orders were intended for the manpower requirements of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, China's Taiwan, Hong Kong and Qatar.

OFW remittances are the biggest source of foreign exchange income for the Philippines. These flows are also a strong driver of domestic consumption, which contributes about two thirds of gross domestic product (GDP).

Remittances for November reached a record high of $2.063 billion, slightly higher than the $2.062 billion recorded a month earlier. The level for November was up 7.5 percent year on year, faster than the 7 percent for the previous month.

This was the highest growth rate since January of 2013 when the amount of money sent home by OFWs rose by 8 percent.

The weakening of the peso is actually a blessing for the OFWs since they would now be able to get more in pesos from their earnings abroad which are in US dollars. This would also spur local consumption and help boost Philippine exports.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Top labor exporter PH may use foreign workers to plug shortfall Agence France-Presse 4:48 pm | Thursday, January 16th, 2014


http://business.inquirer.net/files/2014/01/Herminio-Coloma.jpg
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines, one of the world’s top labor-exporting nations, is suffering shortages in more than one hundred occupations and is considering proposals to hire skilled foreign workers, officials said Thursday.

Large numbers of Filipinos are leaving the country in search of work abroad, but there is now such a skills serious shortage in some professions at home — including architecture, aviation, and chemical engineering — that the government may have to bring in outsiders.

“There is a request from industry recommending… opening 15 categories of highly skilled occupations to possible foreign employment on account of shortages in local supply,” President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said its most recent survey, which projected labor demand for the next seven years, found overall there were 272 “in-demand” occupations, such as nursing and teaching and 110 “hard-to-fill” occupations.

In the category of skilled labor, employers said there were 40 “hard-to-fill” jobs, and asked the government to allow 15 professions to be filled by foreign hires, she said in a statement.

Other roles in the list of 15 that could be filled by immigrants include chemists, environmental planners, guidance counselors, librarians, and assembly technicians.

“By ensuring the continued availability of qualified workers, we are making our industries competitive,” Baldoz added, while stressing that the needs are temporary.

The list was released to the public as the country’s jobless ranks remained stubbornly high even amid accelerating economic growth.

The unemployment rate stood at 6.5 percent in October last year and the underemployment rate at 17.9 percent, even though 10 million Filipinos, or a tenth of the population, live and work abroad.

Coloma stressed the government has yet to decide on the proposal to hire foreign workers.

“This could serve as a signal for our Filipino professionals abroad to return to the country to fill this gap and for schools to realign courses to match the demand for highly skilled workers,” he added.

Alan Tanjusay, spokesman for the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the country’s largest labor union, said its officials are aware of the skilled labor shortages, but doubted local employers could compete with the higher wages offered abroad.

“You have to contend with low salaries,” he told AFP.

“Another factor is the jobs mismatch (arising from) the outdated curricula of vocational training schools and the oversubscription to certain courses like nursing and teachers.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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