MANILA – Cash sent back to the Philippines by its overseas workers hit a record-high of $1.5 billion in March, but year-on-year growth slowed to 3.1 percent, the central bank said yesterday.
Transfers for the three months to March grew 2.7 percent to $4.1 billion, it said in a statement.
The slowing growth compares starkly with the 13.7 percent year-on-year rise in remittances which reached a record $16.429 billion in calendar year 2008.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have both warned that remittance flows that equate to 10 percent of the Philippines' domestic economic output could shrink this year as host nations shed jobs because of the global downturn.
"While concerns remain over the impact of the prevailing global economic crisis on the deployment of Filipino workers abroad," central bank governor Amando Tetangco said the data so far "points to sustained demand for workers overseas."
Nearly nine million Filipinos live abroad, according to central bank estimates, and the number who signed short-term job contracts rose 27.3 percent from a year earlier in the first two months of the year, he said, without giving the two-month total.
The government had processed the travel and work permits of some 280,000 Filipino workers as of May 12, he added.
The Philippines had reported that more than 6,000 foreign-based workers were sent home last year as factories shuttered, but Tetangco said the latest labor department data "showed that the increase in the number of displaced (workers) has slowed down."*AFP