Filipino expat workers’ cash flow nears record high

In 2017, money transfers from migrant workers totaled $31.29 billion. (AFP)
Updated 29 December 2018

Filipino expat workers’ cash flow nears record high

  • Cash remittances from the Middle East from January to October stood at $5.43 billion, down from $6.46 billion in 2017
  • Remittances from Europe rose by 8.7 percent to $3.44 billion from $3.16 billion, boosted mainly by the earnings of Filipino seamen

MANILA: Cash remittances by Filipino migrant workers worldwide could reach a record high this year despite a steep fall in money transfers from the Middle East.
A Philippines congressman, Leyte Rep. Henry Ong, said on Thursday that remittances remained on track to reach $31 billion this year.
Figures from the Philippines Central Bank (BSP) show an increase in money transfers from Africa, Europe, the Pacific islands, the US, Canada, and parts of Asia.
“Personal remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) already total $26.5 billion from January to October, so the $31 billion mark is almost certain,” Ong, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Intermediaries, said in a statement sent to Arab News.
Since money transfers usually peak in December, it is likely the $31 billion figure will be exceeded, he said.
In 2017, money transfers from migrant workers totaled $31.29 billion. “So we could have a new record high this year, but the country must not be complacent in the years ahead,” Ong said.
While transfers from most areas of the world rose, remittances from migrant workers in the Middle East fell by $1.03 billion in the first 10 months of 2018. Ong said that the government should revise its migrant worker strategy following the decline in Middle East transfers.
Filipino migrants should be brought home or redeployed to other countries to minimize the Philippines’ dependence on the economic fortunes of the Middle East.
“OFWs pump more funds into the Philippines economy than foreign investors,” Ong said.
Cash remittances from the Middle East from January to October stood at $5.43 billion, down from $6.46 billion in 2017. Transfers from Saudi Arabia were down 11.1 percent, while remittances from Kuwait fell by 18.2 percent. In Bahrain, transfers were down by 9.6 percent, and in the UAE by 11.1 percent.
Ong called on economic planners to forge new bilateral migrant workers’ agreements with the emerging economies of Africa, South America, and eastern and northern Europe.
“These regions are where economic growth is happening and where migrant workers should be providing much-needed professional and technical manpower,” he said.
Of the estimated 2.3 million Filipino migrant workers, about half work in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia the leading destination.
BSP figures show that from January to October this year, remittances from Africa totaled $113.23 million, up from $92.3 million during the same period in 2017.
Remittances from Europe rose by 8.7 percent to $3.44 billion from $3.16 billion, boosted mainly by the earnings of Filipino seamen. Significant amounts also came from nurses and engineers, farm laborers and household helpers.
Remittances from the Pacific island nations grew by 11.5 percent to $647 million. Much of that came from New Zealand ($199.11 million; up by 88 percent).
Transfers from Australia fell by 17.2 percent to $350.59 million.
Over $10 billion in remittances came Filipinos working in North America. Transfers from the US totaled $8.2 billion, a 6 percent rise, while transfers from Canada rose to $806.36 million, a 54.1 percent jump.
Transfers also surged from five countries in Asia: Taiwan $475.47 million (47.9 percent), Malaysia $378.13 million (42.4 percent), South Korea $274.44 million (21.8 percent), Vietnam $60.78 million (21.4 percent), and Macau $101.63 million (20.4 percent).


UN: Possible to eradicate malaria, but probably not soon

Updated 8 min 28 sec ago

UN: Possible to eradicate malaria, but probably not soon

  • Dr. Pedro Alonso, the UN health agency’s global malaria director, said WHO is “unequivocally in favor” of eradication
  • An eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955 before being abandoned more than a dozen years later

LONDON: The World Health Organization says it’s theoretically possible to wipe out malaria, but probably not with the flawed vaccine and other control methods being used at the moment.
Dr. Pedro Alonso, the UN health agency’s global malaria director, said WHO is “unequivocally in favor” of eradication, but that major questions about its feasibility remain. In a press briefing on Thursday, Alonso acknowledged that “with the tools we have today, it is most unlikely eradication will be achieved.”
Alonso was presenting the results of a WHO-commissioned report evaluating if eradicating malaria should be pursued. He said the experts concluded lingering uncertainties meant they were unable to formulate a clear strategy and thus, couldn’t propose a definitive timeline or cost estimate for eradication.
WHO has long grappled with the idea of erasing malaria from the planet. An eradication campaign was first attempted in 1955 before being abandoned more than a dozen years later. For decades, health officials were chastened from even discussing eradication — until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation threw its considerable resources behind the idea.
Smallpox is the only human disease to ever have been eradicated. In 1988, WHO and partners began a global campaign that aimed to wipe out polio by 2000. Despite numerous effective vaccines and billions of invested dollars, efforts have stalled in recent years and officials have repeatedly missed eradication targets.
Although several African countries began immunizing children against malaria in national programs this year, the shot only protects about one third of children who get it. The parasitic disease kills about 435,000 people every year, mostly children in Africa.
“An effective vaccine is something we desperately need if we’re ever going to get malaria under control and we just don’t have it,” said Alister Lister, dean of biological sciences at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Lister also raised concerns about whether malaria programs would be able to raise the billions needed given other competing eradication campaigns, like those for polio, guinea worm and lymphatic filariasis.
“Should we really be pushing for malaria or should we concentrate on getting some of those other diseases out of the way first?” he asked.
Other experts agreed that eradicating malaria in the coming years seems aspirational.
“It’s a long game and there will be many bumps on the road,” said Sian Clarke, co-director of the malaria center at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Still, Clarke said that eradication might only be achieved if there is a sense of urgency, given how malaria spreads; the parasitic disease is transmitted to people by mosquitoes.
“The longer it takes, the more opportunity there is for the parasite to evolve,” she said. “There will be a lot of pressure on the parasite to evolve a mechanism of survival, so this is something that if it’s to be done, should be done relatively quickly.”