Trade union claims workers’ remittances from US, key countries down

by Kobakila News

MANILA (Apr. 25) — Remittances from Filipino workers based in the United States and other key countries in Europe and the Middle East have slumped at double-digit rates, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reported Sunday.

Based on a closer scrutiny of data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera said the January to February 2009 money transfers from Filipino workers in America declined by 12.02 percent to $1.023 billion versus the $1.163 billion they sent home in the same two-month period in 2008.

Herrera said the January to February remittances from Filipino workers in Italy also plunged by 22.75 percent to $94.645 million versus $122.517 million a year ago; while those from the United Kingdom fell by 17.86 percent to $116.626 million from $141.989 million.

He said the January to February cash transfers from Filipino laborers in Taiwan also nose-dived by 34.32 percent to $21.448 million versus P32.656 million a year ago; from Australia, by 15.75 percent to $16.397 million from $19.463 million; from South Korea, by 20.99 percent to $13.678 million from $17.311 million; and from Guam, by 17.26 percent to $11.11 million from $13.427 million.

Herrera said remittances from Filipino workers in Hong Kong likewise slipped, albeit only by 1.82 percent to $64.18 million from $65.368 million.

As to cash transfers from the Middle East, Herrera said those from Filipino workers in Kuwait also sank by 55.48 percent to $13.912 million versus $31.252 million a year ago; from Bahrain, by 13.61 percent to $23.25 million from $26.914 million; from Qatar, by 11.86 percent to $24.847 million from $28.19 million.

Money sent home by Filipino laborers in the United Arab Emirates also dipped by 9.77 percent to $94.09 million from $104.277 million.

“We’re never seen anything like this since the government embarked on an overseas employment program. The declines are widespread, on account of the severe and extensive global economic downturn,” Herrera said.

The BSP previously reported that the January to February remittances from all migrant Filipino workers amounted to $2.585 billion, up only $62.873 million or 2.49 percent versus a year ago.

Herrera said the slight $62.873-million net increase was due to a number of “small bright spots” that offset the reduced remittances from traditional sources such as America, where almost one-half of the aggregate annual cash transfers from all migrant Filipino workers come from.

He said the January to February remittances from Filipino workers in Canada soared by 63.79 percent to $288.967 million compared to $176.420 million a year ago; from Saudi Arabia, by 32.28 percent to $253.45 million from $191.607 million; from Japan, by 43.29 percent to $119.166 million from $83.162 million.

“Except for the US, it would seem that remittances from countries with aggressive economic stimulus plans remain somewhat robust,” Herrera said.

Amid the global recession, Saudi Arabia and Japan have launched massive public spending programs, worth $400 billion and $150 billion, respectively, to stimulate their economies.

“In the case of Saudi Arabia, they are rolling out new infrastructures, thus the continuing demand for Filipino engineers and construction workers,” Herrera said.

“As to Japan — the world’s second largest economy — their workforce is really getting very old. So they are recruiting more foreign workers, particularly in shipping, technology and services,” he said.

“There are also indications that the harsh economic conditions in Japan have apparently driven more people there to seek entertainment services in clubs that employ many Filipinos,” Herrera said.

Herrera said money transfers from Filipino workers in Germany likewise jumped by 71.79 percent to $75.561 million versus $43.984 million; from Singapore, by 30.67 percent to $107.326 million from $82.133 million; from Norway by 30.09 percent to $47.93 million from $36.843 million; from The Netherlands, by 69.07 percent to $20.806 million from $12.306 million.

Remittances from Filipino laborers in Denmark also surged by 103.36 percent to $15.974 million from $7.855 million; from Cyprus, by 99.74 percent to $13.674 million from $6.846 million; from Greece, by 26.55 percent to $25.412 million from $20.080 million; from Switzerland, by 39.83 percent to $13.468 million from $9.632 million; and from Malaysia, by 19.11 percent to $12.443 million from $10.447 million.

Herrera said Malaysia and Singapore are also carrying out extra huge public spending programs, worth $18.5 billion and $13.7 billion, respectively.

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