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July 16, 2008

Philippines: Remittances at record high in May
Remittances from Filipinos working overseas rose 15.6 percent year-on-year in May to a record $1.43 billion, the central bank said, as more Filipinos left the country to work abroad despite a global slowdown, reported Reuters.

More Filipinos were deployed in the Middle East, most of whom recruited to work on the expansion of an unnamed big oil processing complex to feed the rising global demand for crude oil, the central bank said in a statement.

The May data brought the five-month remittance level to $6.8 billion, up 14.7 percent from a year earlier. Remittances remained strong at above $1.2 billion per month so far this year.

Despite a slowing global economy, the number of Filipino workers deployed abroad in the first five months of the year climbed 39.5 percent from a year earlier.

"This reflected the distinct preference for the skills quality and competence of Filipino workers," the central bank said.

Analysts said higher domestic consumer prices have encouraged Filipinos overseas to send more money to support their families at home.

Remittances from over 8 million Filipinos, around 10 percent of the population, have boosted domestic consumption and the inflows are a cornerstone of the economy.

With the peso depreciating more than 8 percent so far this year, families of overseas Filipinos would have more pesos to spend on their basic needs, supporting consumption spending in a high inflation environment. Inflation hit a 14-year high in June.

Consumption accounts for about 70 percent of Philippine gross domestic product.

The dollar inflows from remittances also help boost the country's balance of payments at a time when the Philippines is seen to be one of the most vulnerable economies in the region due to its rising import bill and weakening exports.

The central bank expects total remittances coursed through formal channels this year would reach about $15.7 billion, up 9 percent from 2007.

The bulk of the remittances originated from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong.

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