OFW remittances up

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Remittances from millions of Filipinos working abroad rose 2.8 percent year-on-year in August, the central bank said yesterday, bolstering expectations for economic growth.

The total of $1.4 billion in August brought remittances for the first eight months of the year to $11.34 billion, a 3.7 percent increase from the same period last year, the central bank said in a statement.

“Remittances from Filipino workers overseas continued to underpin the resilience of the economy, remaining a stable source of foreign exchange for the country,” the statement said.

It credited the remittances to the steady deployment of workers abroad and the improved services and channels for sending the money home, particularly through local banks.

This growth comes despite earlier forecasts by the government and international institutions that remittances from overseas workers would be flat or fall this year due to the global financial crisis.

Central bank governor Amando Tetangco said remittances would likely increase in the coming months amid signs that global crisis was coming to an end.

New labor agreements that have been forged with countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia and Taiwan would also help, he said.

The biggest sources of money from abroad were the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, the statement said.

The cash transfers from the roughly nine million Filipinos working abroad are equivalent to nearly 10 percent of the Philippines’ economic output .

Government economic planners have expressed confidence that the strong overseas remittances would help the Philippines post positive economic growth this year despite the global crisis and destructive storms at home.