Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) sent home a record-high $3.2 billion in the month of December alone, bringing the total remittances for 2018 to a new record of $32.2 billion, House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries chair Henry Ong said on Sunday.
"As I earlier forecast, overseas Filipinos breached the 2017 remittance record of $31.29 billion, but they also pulled out a Christmas surprise by sending home $3.2 billion in the whole month of December, the highest monthly money transfer total ever," Ong said in a statement.
Ong also noted that OFW remittances coming from Canada skyrocketed in 2018.
"The annual total from Canada is nearly $977 million in 2018 versus the close to $645 million of 2017, for a hefty growth rate of 51.5 percent," he said.
A 6-percent growth rate in the money transfers from the United States has been recorded this year, Ong said.
"Last year, Filipinos and Filipino-Americans sent home $9.986 billion compared to the $9.422 billion of 2017. That's a huge difference of $564 million," he said.
'Countries where they are better cared for'
Remittances from the Middle East, however, plunged by 15.3-percent in 2018, Ong said, citing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' statement.
"This slippage, which I have observed for many months now, is what prompted me to suggest to the economic managers that they execute an OFW deployment strategy that is less dependent on the Middle East market and redeploys OFWs to countries where they are welcome and will be better cared for," Ong said.
Ong foresees a "long-term stagnation" of Middle East as an OFW-receiving region.
"Even if remittances from that part of the world recover when the economies there do better with higher oil prices, I expect the money transfers to peak no higher than $8 billion to $8.5 billion,"he said.
With the booming OFW remittances, Ong expects the Philippines to become a middle income country as well as a global preferred source of technical expertise and professional services. — Erwin Colcol/BM, GMA News