Remittances can't replace
good economic policies, RP told
By Oliver Teves
THE PHILIPPINES should not rely on the remittances of more
than eight million overseas Filipino workers to keep its economy
afloat, the World Bank said Friday.
The Philippines recorded 11.6 billion dollars in remittances
in 2004, making it the fifth largest recipient behind India,
China, Mexico and France. The amount represented 13.5 percent
of the country's gross domestic product, the largest in proportion
to the domestic economy among the five countries, the World
Bank said in a report.
"Over the years, excellent performance of remittances
may have contributed to complacency in addressing fiscal deficits
and low productivity growth," said the bank's country
representative Joachim von Amsberg. "Remittances should
not distract the country from its huge potential for domestic
investment and growth."
Von Amsberg spoke to a group of journalists and economists about
the bank's recent report, "Global Economic Prospects: The
Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration," which
urged countries not to view overseas employment as a "substitute
for economic development in the origin country as ultimately,
development depends on sound domestic economic policies."
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's spokesperson, Ignacio
Bunye, has said the administration acknowledges sacrifices
made by Filipinos seeking opportunities abroad but added that
the government will continue "to look for ways to keep
them home by aiming at a strong economy generating well-paying
The bank report said remittances worldwide have amounted
to 232 billion dollars so far this year, of which developing
countries like the Philippines accounted for 167 billion dollars
-- more than twice the foreign aid they have received.
Vera Songwe, a World Bank economist, said the remittances
were so huge that they were slightly larger than the country's
electronics exports, making Filipino workers "the largest
Philippine Economic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said
that between January and September, overseas Filipinos sent
home 7.9 billion dollars, up 27 percent compared to the same
period last year.
Songwe also expressed concern over the increasing number
of skilled workers taking on unskilled work overseas, resulting
in a serious brain drain, particularly in the health and education
She said 1,000 private hospitals have been forced to close
for lack of manpower over the past five years, and 6,000 doctors
have shifted to nursing, which is in demand overseas. She
added that 10,000 teachers have left for jobs abroad since
1988, and 32,000 teachers now work as maids in neighboring
countries in Asia.
(1 dollar = 54.159 pesos)
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or