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Philippines central bank remittances to grow 15% in 2008

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Philippines central bank remittances to grow 15% in 2008
Remittances from overseas Filipino workers are expected to grow about 15 percent this year, less than than the 18 percent rise in January to July, as the global financial crisis bites, Reuters quoted a central bank official as saying Tuesday.

Monthly remittances averaging about $1.4 billion in the first seven months would likely slow to about $1.2 billion per month for the rest of the year, Nestor Espenilla, a deputy governor at the Philippine central bank, told Reuters.

"Taking into account the possible slowdown of remittances, it might only grow about 15 percent which is still not bad given that 10 percent was the original projection to begin with," Espenilla said, referring to the year-end growth.

He said monetary authorities were studying if the impact of the crisis on remittance flows would be more severe next year, with the global economy on the brink of a recession.

Remittances are a pillar of the Philippine economy as these flows, equivalent to about a tenth of gross domestic product, support private consumption, the peso currency and the country's balance of payments.

About a tenth of the country's 90 million population work and live overseas, seeking higher-paying jobs mainly in the Middle East, United States, and in many parts of Asia and Europe to support their families at home.

The central bank has forecast remittances sent through official channels like banks and remittance centres to grow by about 10 percent this year to $15.9 billion from $14.4 billion in 2007. In the first seven months of the year, the remittances reached $9.6 billion, up 18.2 percent from a year earlier.

Last month, the central bank estimated remittances would also rise 10 percent next year despite the slowing global economy.

That estimate was made before a Wall Street rout sent global markets into a tailspin, prompting governments around the world to rush out multi-billion dollar bank bailout plans and triggering interest rate cuts and liquidity injections by the world's central banks.

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