Overseas Filipinos sent record $18.8B in ’10

Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Remittances grew faster than expected in 2010 to post an all-time high as the recovery of the global economy from the recent turmoil led to growth in job opportunities abroad for Filipinos.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Monday reported that remittances from Filipinos based overseas reached $18.76 billion last year, the highest ever recorded by the country.

It was an 8.2-percent growth from the $17.07 billion registered in 2009 and exceeded the government’s forecast of 8 percent.

In December alone, remittances amounted to $1.69 billion, rising 8.1 percent from $1.57 billion in the same month of the previous year.

The BSP said the robust growth in remittances, which fuel local consumption, partly aided the economy’s sharp rebound last year from the slowdown in 2009.

“The stable flow of remittances continued to provide strong support to domestic demand, with the remittance level for the year accounting for close to 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product [GDP],” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement.

GDP grew 7.3 percent in 2010, the fastest pace in about three decades.

Remittances largely came from Filipinos based in the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany and Norway.

The increasing number of job markets, as well as the expanding network of remittance centers serving Filipino workers, should be credited for boosting the amount of money sent by Filipinos to their families and other recipients in the Philippines.

“The continuing innovation of financial products and services [such as web-based remittance services and cash cards] being offered in the market to facilitate money transfer have likewise contributed to the resilience of remittances throughout the year,” Tetangco said.

The BSP said that as of end-2010, there were 4,581 remittance centers, banks and other offices all over the world serving the remittance needs of Filipinos. This was up from 3,730 registered as of end-2009.

Citing documents from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the central bank further reported that 46,238 job orders for Filipino workers by foreign employers were processed and approved last year. There are an estimated 10 million Filipino workers abroad.

While the growth in remittances has a positive impact on the economy in the form of increased consumption by recipients, it reflects the view of many Filipinos that job opportunities in the country are lacking.

The National Statistics Office earlier reported that the unemployment rate in the country stood at 7.1 percent in October 2010, just the same as that in the same period of the previous year.