Citing figures from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Representative Henry Ong said he expects OFWs’ remittances for 2018 to exceed more than $31 billion.
“Considering that monthly OFW money transfers have not gone lower than $2 billion since February 2016 ... personal remittances already totaled $26.5 billion in January to October, the $31 billion mark is near certainty,” said Ong, who chairs the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.
Since the remittances always peak in December, there is even a high probability the $31 billion would be surpassed,” he added.
According to Central Bank data, remittances from OFWs in Africa alone rose by 22.7 percent to $113.23 million in January to October this year, from $92.3 million in the same period last year.
These remittances largely came from Liberia, which posted $57,85 million. Also contributing to the hike were remittances from Nigeria, Seychelles, and Egypt at $8.74 million, $2.01 million, and $2.06 million, respectively, Ong said.
In Europe, remittances hiked to 8.7 percent to $3.44 billion from $3.16 billion, mainly from Filipino seafarers whose ships were registered and based in the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, and Cyprus, even as a significant amount also came from land-based workers, such as nurses and engineers, farmhands, and household service workers.
From the Pacific island nations, remittances also increased by 11.5 percent to $647 million from $580.4 million. Money transfers from New Zealand and the Marshall Islands reached $199.11 million and $42.80 million, respectively.
From Northern America, more than $10 billion were remitted to the Philippines, while money transfers from the United States were up by 6 percent to $8.2 billion, and from Canada up 54.1 percent at $806.36 million.
Because of the huge contributions from seafarers, Ong is proposing that government invest in maritime education, noting that only two maritime schools are funded by the government, namely the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) in Zambales and the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) in Tacloban, Leyte.
“To further strengthen our position as a major maritime nation, I believe we should invest more in maritime education through the PMMA which should become a university and the NMP, converted into a state college,” he said.
Ong is also recommending that economic managers try to convince OFWs to invest their earnings in small business ventures, interest income-bearing securities, retirement savings, health care insurance, and quality education for their dependents.
“I also want to see the Overseas Filipino Bank, a subsidiary of the Land Bank of the Philippines, to have a much deeper and growing role in the investment decisions of OFWs and their dependents,” he said.
“As to the deployment policy, the Philippines should forge overseas Filipino workers’ bridges with the ... economies of Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe,” he added.