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Manila Sees Jump in Payments by Overseas Workers


The Philippine central bank expects payments from Filipinos working abroad to total about $10 billion this year. The figure is a big jump over 2004, and is expected to boost country's economy.

Central Bank Governor Amando Tetangco says the $10 billion figure would be a big increase over the $8.5 billion Filipinos sent home last year. This translates into about 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product for 2005. The foreign transfers drive consumer spending, which is at the core of Philippine economy.

Philippine nurses, other medical staff, accountants and office managers are in increasing demand internationally, according to Governor Tetangco, and this means people living abroad are making more money.

"The skills that are now being sought are of a higher quality," he said. "And therefore the salary and the compensation of these workers are also higher. This is part of the reason why there has been a significant increase in the amount of remittances."

The Central Bank governor says the number of Filipinos abroad, estimated around eight million, also continues to rise as people seek economic opportunity. In addition, banks and other financial institutions are making it easier for Filipinos to send money home.

Analysts also note that widespread poverty in the Philippines, and corruption virtually at every level of society, has forced people to seek work outside of the country.

Governor Tetangco says overseas employment has actually developed into an industry. It started in the 1970s as a temporary measure to generate foreign exchange, but over the years it grew to become a major part of the economy. He says that with an aging population in developed countries, the demand for health care workers will grow, and this will be good news for Philippine labor abroad.