Philippines overseas remittances in June new high


Filipinos working abroad sent home a record 1.5 billion dollars in June, the central bank said on Monday, boosting hopes the country can avoid a recession this year.

The June figure, up 3.3 percent year on year, takes the total sent back to the Philippines in the first half of the year to 8.5 billion dollars, the bank added in a statement, 2.9 percent up on the same point in 2008.

"The continued growth of remittance flows since January this year accompanied by emerging signs of improving global economic conditions have affirmed the positive outlook for steady remittances for 2009," central bank governor Amando Tetangco was quoted as saying.

He attributed the growth to "the sustained foreign demand for highly-skilled and professional Filipino workers," as well as the wider availability of financial services to send those funds back.

Total remittances in 2008 hit 16.4 billion dollars, a 13.7 percent increase on 2007.

The bank also forecast the deployment of Filipinos abroad would remain steady despite the global crisis, citing new "employment arrangements" between the Philippines and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia and South Korea.

It also cited the need for 4,000 Filipino medical workers in Libya and new markets for workers in such countries as Algeria, Chad, Malta, and Morocco.

The World Bank had previously predicted the Philippines could suffer negative economic growth this year as the downturn caused more lay-offs in countries where the Philippines’ nine million overseas workers are based.

However Manila has said remittances would remain strong and the country could still avoid a recession because Filipino workers abroad often work in highly-skilled jobs and are less likely to be laid off.

The cash transfers are equivalent to nearly 10 percent of the economic output of the Philippines and constitute a major source of foreign exchange and are a spur to both local consumption and investment.

Economic growth slowed to a 10-year low 0.4 percent in the first quarter but the government forecast the archipelago nation will avoid recession and record 0.8 percent growth for the year.