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December 8, 2008

Philippine central bank: Remittances begin to slow down
Growth in remittances from the Philippines' overseas-based workers, a key driver of consumer spending, may ease to as low as 6 percent in 2009 from 10-11 percent this year as the global economic crisis bites, Reuters reported, citing documents from the central bank.

The remittances, about a tenth of the Southeast Asian nation's gross domestic product, are estimated to grow between 6 and 10 percent in 2009 from a projected $16 billion this year, according to preliminary estimates from the central bank.

The central bank had forecast remittances, sent through banks, to rise up to 11 percent this year from $14.45 billion in 2007. Including those through informal channels, remittances could reach as much as $16.6 billion in 2008, according to the documents.

"There may be some slowdown in the rate, but there's still growth," central bank governor Amando Tetangco told reporters.

Remittances totalled $12.3 billion in the first nine months of 2008, up 17.1 percent from a year earlier.

Analysts are expecting steady remittances to shield the Philippine economy from the impact of a deepening global crisis, with the weakening peso boosting the purchasing power of the money sent home by overseas Filipinos.

Tetangco said the deployment of higher-skilled workers from the Philippines, particularly in countries that have been less badly hit by the global economic turmoil, could offset the impact of those being laid off elsewhere as companies worldwide cut costs to survive.

"Middle East and Asia have proven to be still resilient, not as affected as much as the other countries, and they (Filipino workers) are in the higher-paying fields such as medical and service-related industries," he said.

Roughly one in 10 of the Philippines' 90 million people work overseas.

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