by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO
MANILA (OFW Journalism Consortium)—DESPITE decreasing wage levels, ban on deployment, and nationalization of labor markets, four Middle East destination countries of Filipino temporary contract workers posted the biggest year-on-year increases of remittances, based on data by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas from 190 countries and territories.
The January-to-September 2007 data from the BSP showed that the United Arab Emirates tops Middle East countries in terms of year-on-year increases in remittances sent to the Philippines.
Nine-month period data showed that Filipinos sent a total $427.525 million to the Philippines from the UAE.
This figure is nearly 50-percent (49.57%) higher than the $285.84 million in remittances that Filipinos sent from UAE from January to September last year.
The increase came mostly from land-based temporary migrant workers. These workers sent home $0.418 billion from January to September this year. In the same period last year, land-based workers sent home $278.36 million.
While 2007 country-by-country deployment figures from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are not yet available, there were 38,523 temporary contract workers –including 11,766 domestic helpers– deployed to the UAE.
The BSP usually releases aggregated data on remittances, which includes data on money flowing from identified destination countries.
The BSP also has remittance data in some 190 countries where there are Filipinos.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which deployed some 89,783 workers last year, also realized a year-on-year increase in remittances with a nine-month total of $895.65 million; higher than the January-to-September 2006 figure by some $111.26 million.
Land-based workers there sent home nearly a billion dollars ($894.84 million) during the first nine months, compared to $0.784 billion during the same period last year.
However, existing Saudi banking regulations see some remittances originating from that country pass through banks in the United States before these are sent to Philippine-based recipients. The Bangko Sentral records some of these Saudi Arabia-originated remittances as coming from the US.
Filipinos from Kuwait, the second-biggest destination country of domestic helpers according to 2006 POEA data, sent home $141.32 million during the nine-month period. This is more than the 2006 year-on-year figure of $81.84 million.
Land-based workers in Kuwait, including domestic helpers newly-deployed and who have been working there, sent home $139.77 million during this year’s first nine months (an increase of $58.5 million from the previous year’s figure).
But even if there were lesser numbers of deployed contract workers to Bahrain (5,151) than to Qatar (27,814) in 2006, year-on-year remittances coming from Bahrain were higher by $57.402 million, as compared to Qatar, which is higher by $34.912 million.
Nine-month remittance figures from Bahrain showed that Filipinos there sent home a total of $103.425 million, whereas those from Qatar sent home $116.519 million.
WHILE POEA data shows that Hong Kong is the top destination country for domestic helpers in 2006 —with 19,532 deployed there, the BSP figures showed a noticeable decrease in remittances from land-based Filipino workers in the former British colony.
Among East Asian destination countries, Hong Kong-originated remittances in the nine-month period ending September 2007 hit $263.992 million. In the same period last year, the number was $302.72 million. Land-based workers from Hong Kong remitted less in 2007 ($244.98 million) than in the previous year ($278.63 million).
In all destination countries, Hong Kong had the highest remittance drop: $38.733 million.
The next destination country with the highest remittance drop is Ireland, where 2006 government stock estimates show there are 11,500 Filipinos there (including 10,800 temporary migrant workers), and where some 291 workers were deployed last year.
During the year’s first nine months, Filipinos in Ireland remitted $9.86 million, lower than the year-on-year figure of $30.30 million (or by some $20.44 million).
Noticeable also is the drop in remittances from land-based Filipino workers and immigrants in Japan. Money from these workers amounted to $324.42 million as against the $326.28 million sent from Japan in the same period last year.
Remittances from land-based Filipinos from Japan were lower year-on-year by $24.61 million, but money sent by seafarers during the period hit $140.34 million (or higher by $22.75 million year-on-year).
Since the implementation of Japan’s new immigration rules two years ago, the deployment of Filipinos there, mostly female overseas performing artists, has hit 6,672. Five years ago, the Philippines sent more than 70,000 workers to Japan.
Total remittances from Singapore ($274.26 million) and Taiwan ($137.28 million) increased by $58.71 million and $23.72 respectively, year-on-year —thanks to both countries’ Filipino land-based workers.
Singapore is a beehive of domestic helpers and some engineers and information technology workers. Taiwan, on the other hand, is the top destination country of Filipino caregivers from 2003 to 2006, according to POEA data.
MEANWHILE, not even a halt to hiring foreign nurses stopped Filipinos in the UK to remit more this year ($524.62 million) than last year ($375.28 million).
The United Kingdom is an example of a destination country for Filipinos where there are large numbers of temporary contract workers and permanent residents. Of the estimated total 165,564 Filipinos in the UK, 93,358 were temporary contract workers and 62,606 were immigrants.
The United States, for its part, still remains the largest country source of remittances for overseas Filipinos. Some $5.27 billion were sent during the first nine months of the year from the US, compared to the $4.85 billion during the same period in 2006.
Even as some remittances coming from Saudi Arabia pass through American banks, that continent’s estimated 2,443,269 Filipino permanent residents carry remittance volumes going to the Philippines.
Filipinos from Canada, for their part, sent home $375.6 million thus far this year compared to the $283.47 million from January-to-September 2006. That country is home to some 396,054 permanent residents and some 38,886 temporary migrants.
Studies such as those by University of the Philippines economist Edita Tan and the Asian Development Bank have shown that temporary contract workers remit regularly than permanent residents since the dependents of temporary migrants are in the Philippines.
From January to September this year, the Philippines has received some $10.48 billion in total remittances (with $8.81 billion coming from land-based workers and $1.67 billion from seafarers).
Government’s 2006 estimates show there are 8,233,172 Filipinos in some 193 countries.