MANILA, Philippines -- Remittances grew faster than anticipated in 2010 to post an all-time high, as the recovery of the global economy from the recent turmoil led to growth in job opportunities for Filipinos abroad.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported on Tuesday that remittances from Filipinos based abroad reached $18.76 billion in 2010, the highest ever recorded.
It marked an 8.2-percent growth from the $17.07 billion registered in 2009, slightly exceeding the government's forecast of an 8-percent growth.
Last December alone, remittances amounted to $1.69 billion, rising by 8.1 percent from $1.57 billion in the same month of December 2009
The BSP said robust growth in remittances, which fueled consumption, partly aided the economy's rebound last year from the slowdown in 2009.
"The stable flow of remittances continued to provide strong support to domestic demand, with the remittances level for the year accounting for close to 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)," BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement.
Remittances largely came from Filipinos based in the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, Germany, and Norway.
The economy's GDP grew by 7.3 percent in 2010, the fastest pace in about three decades.
The increasing number of job markets for Filipinos as well as the expanding network of remittance centers serving Filipino workers should be credited for boosting the amount of money sent by Filipinos to their families and other recipients in the Philippines, the BSP said.
"The continuing innovation of financial products and services [such as web-based remittance services, cash cards, among others] being offered in the market to facilitate money transfer have likewise contributed to the resilience of remittances throughout the year," Tetangco said.
The BSP said that as of the end of 2010, there were 4,581 remittance centers, banks, and other offices all over the world serving the remittance-services needs of Filipinos. These were up from 3,730 registered as of the end of 2009.
Citing data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the central bank further reported that 46,238 job orders for Filipino workers by foreign employers were processed and approved in 2010, thereby increasing the number of overseas Filipino workers estimated at around 10 million.
While increase in remittances positively impacts on the economy, via rise in consumption by recipients, it reflects the view of many Filipinos that the country still lacks job opportunities for its citizens.
The National Statistics Office earlier reported that the unemployment rate in the country stood at 7.1 percent in October 2010, just the same as that in the same period of the previous year.