Outbound passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport include Filipino workers deployed around the world.

MANILA — Remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) grew at a faster rate of 5.8 percent in February from 5.4 percent in January due to the strong demand of skilled Filipino workers abroad, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement that the amount of money sent home by Filipinos abroad reached $1.587 billion in February or $87 million higher than the $1.5 billion booked in the same month last year.

“The continued inflow of overseas Filipinos remittances is supported by the sustained demand for Filipino manpower in various foreign labor markets,” Tetangco stressed.

He pointed out that 76.1 percent or $1.2 billion of the total cash transfers in February came from land-based Filipino workers, while 23.9 percent or about $400 million came from sea-based workers.

He added that about 86.3 percent of the total fund transfers in March came from the U.S., Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Kingdom, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Germany and Hong Kong.

For the first two months of the year, the BSP chief reported that remittances expanded by 5.6 percent to $3.144 billion from $2.977 billion in the same period last year.

The BSP sees the growth of OFW remittances slowing down to five percent this year.

OFW remittances went up by 7.2 percent to a new record high of $20.117 billion last year from $18.763 billion in 2010, exceeding the revised growth target of seven percent.

Higher remittances result to stronger external payments position, boosting the country’s buffer fund to fend off the impact of global shocks.

Recent data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed that total processed job orders for professional and technical, service and production workers rose 24.6 percent to 200,010 in the first quarter of the year.

The employment opportunities are intended mainly for Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Taiwan, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Tetangco added that the lifting of deployment bans imposed by POEA in Nigeria, Libya and South Sudan following improved security conditions could provide additional employment prospects abroad for Filipinos.

Aside from the diversified destinations and skills of overseas Filipinos, the BSP also cited the strategic network of bank and non-bank service providers across the globe, as well as the new financial products and money transfer services offered in the remittance market.

“Moreover, local banks and other financial institutions continued to expand their presence abroad to serve the remittance needs of Filipino workers,” he added.

He pointed out that the improved accessibility of remittance centers and the wide array of financial products on offer supported the increase in remittances and encouraged more overseas Filipinos to send money to their families and other beneficiaries in the Philippines.

Aside from boosting the country’s external payments position to serve as buffer to external shocks, OFW remittances that accounted for about nine percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continued to be a major contributor in economic growth through higher consumption.

The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) sees the country’s GDP growing at a faster rate of five percent to six percent this year after slackening to 3.7 percent last year from 7.6 percent in 2010 due to weak global demand and cautious spending by the Aquino government.

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