PH third highest remittance recipient among developing nations

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom
A bank employee displays 100 peso notes in Manila. The Philippine economy is facing major risks from abroad that could limit its growth prospects next year, the central bank governor said Wednesday

Despite a gloomy global economic climate, Filipinos may still count on a boost from overseas workers who will continue to send cash back home, new World Bank projections showed.

Among developing countries, The Philippines will be the third highest recipient of remittances from overseas workers this year, the World Bank said in its latest "Migration and Development Brief."

Cash inflows from Pinoys abroad are seen to reach $24.3 billion in 2012, up 5.4 percent from $23.1 billion last year.

Latest central bank data pegged OFW inflows at $15.6 billion as of the end of the third quarter, up 5.5 percent from year-ago levels.

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The World Bank's forecast growth in remittances to the Philippines, however, is slower than 2011's expansion of 7.6 percent.

This may be attributed to an appreciation of the peso, which the World Bank says prods "migrants to delay sending remittances until exchange rates are more favorable."

Globally, inflows to developing countries are expected to grow by 6.5 percent to $403 billion in 2012.

"International migrants are weathering the effects of the ongoing global economic crisis..." the World Bank said.

India will be the top recipient of remittances this year, with inflows reaching $69.8 billion based on World Bank estimates, followed by China at $66.3 billion.

The Philippines is a far third, followed by Mexico ($23.5 billion), Nigeria ($20.6 billion), Egypt ($18 billion), Pakistan ($13.9 billion, Bangladesh ($13.7 billion), Vietnam ($9 billion) and Lebanon ($7.6 billion).

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The World Bank also expects remittances to developing countries to spike further by 7.9 percent in 2013, 10.1 percent in 2014 and 10.7 percent in 2015, when it is seen to reach $534 billion.

"We expect growth of flows to remain robust in regions that rely on remittance flows from the US, the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and Russia," the multilateral lender said.

Risks to remittances growth remain, however, with the World Bank citing "increasingly harsh rhetoric and policies hostile towards migrants in many destination countries, especially Europe."

Meanwhile, the World Bank cited the Philippines as one of the countries where innovations such as international mobile remittances effectively ease the cost of sending money.

This, as it noted that worldwide, only 20 percent of 130 mobile banking operators worldwide offered international remittance services as of early 2012.

The Philippines, as well as Kenya, "are ahead of the curve in fostering an ecosystem of mobile payment services," it added.

"They may provide fertile ground for adoption of international remittance services via mobile phones, but most other countries are much further behind at this point," the World Bank noted.

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