Permanent settlers abroad keep OFW money flow up – economist (First of two parts)

MANILA — GROWTH rates of remittances are due to sustained sending from two types of overseas Filipinos, University of Santo Tomas economics professor Alvin Ang said.

These are residency permit holders and naturalized citizens in Japan, Germany, Norway, Greece, the Netherlands and Canada. They are also in countries whose demand for Filipino workers is next to nil.

Ang describes these Filipinos as “non-traditional” remittance senders. But they have helped the Philippines weather the storm of possible remittance declines as a result of the global economic crisis, according to him.

You wonder why they are sending more money at this time. Or first of all, why them?” Ang told the OFW Journalism Consortium.

Permanent migrants are sending more money now regardless of what jobs they have overseas. They include Filipinos holding residency permits doing domestic work for foreign households and who have their families with them, Ang says.

Data on the first six months of remittance inflows from Filipinos in 239 countries and territories saw the country receiving US$8.479 billion, higher than the US$8.241 billion for the same six-month period last year.

Prior to the events that triggered a global economic crisis in September last year, Ang predicted that remittances from overseas Filipinos will reach a plateau that, according to him, is within growth range of one to three percent.

True enough, after the first half of the year, the year-on-year remittance growth of 2.89 percent is within his plateau range forecast.

While Ang said he wasn’t surprised with the plateauing and the continued positive growth rates for remittances, what caught his fancy is the volume of remittances from these specific countries.

Non-traditional

FIRST off is Japan, which Ang said, made the entry of overseas performing artists or entertainers doubly stricter since 2005.

However, based on the 16-page report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Japan’s year-on-year remittance growth rate is higher by 61.56 percent to US$390.3 million as against the US$214.6 million received from this country during the first half of 2008.

Germany, known to be a destination country for Filipino women marrying German nationals, posted a 55.27-percent growth. The Philippines got US$228.7 million from Germany during the first half of this year.

Remittance from Greece, known for money sent by seafarers and domestic workers was smaller compared to Germany at US$92.7 million. Still, money flow from Greece was at a 52.08-percent year-on-year growth rate.

Likewise, money from the Netherlands is smaller at US$73.1 million but the year-on-year growth rate is 94.16 percent.

Filipino seafarers sending money from Norway were primarily responsible for not just the US$177 million sent to the Philippine as of June this year, but also for the 63.99 percent year-on-year growth rate.

(To be continued)