Pinoy money from Singapore, HK, Japan
MANILA – ESTIMATES by a recent Asian Development Bank study of Filipino workers’ remittances from Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are higher than the actual money that passed through banks in the Philippines.
The ADB study Southeast Asian Workers’ Remittances showed that Filipinos in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore remitted higher than data reported by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
The study revealed that Filipinos in Japan remitted more than three-quarters of a billion dollars; those in Hong Kong remitted nearly US$293 million; and those from Singapore remitted about a quarter of a billion dollars.
Compared to the remittance figures of the BSP for the first seven months of this year, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Japan remitted US$198.618 million. The BSP figures also cited that Filipinos in Hong Kong sent home US$192.753 and those in Singapore remitted US$133.365 million.
Although remittances are one of the biggest reasons for government’s involvement in labor migration, ADB study leader Dr. Manuel Orozco wrote: “paradoxically, official data is arguably a significant underestimate of the numbers”.
A September 15 BSP statement cited that Japan is the third leading recipient of OFW remittances as of the year’s first seven months. Hong Kong is number 5, and Singapore is number 6, the BSP said in its press release.
Some 74,480 Filipinos were deployed to Japan, mostly as overseas performing artists (OPAs) or “entertainers”, last year. Some 87,254 were deployed to Hong Kong and 22,198 to Singapore –mostly as domestic helpers– last year, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
As of the first six months of this year, 32,210 were deployed to Japan, 54,477 to Hong Kong, and 16,444 to Singapore.
Difference between estimates versus actual money flow: US$1.007 B
BUT even the high-end remittance volume estimates of the ADB study were higher than the 2004 total remittances that the BSP recorded Pinoys in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore sent back to their home country –the difference totaling US$1.007 billion.
- For Japan, the ADB’s high-end estimate is US$1.014 billion while the BSP’s 2004 figure was US$308.128 million (a difference of US$705.872 million);
- For Hong Kong, the ADB’s high-end estimate is US$376.651 million while the BSP figure last year was US$273.812 million (difference of US$102.839 million); and,
- For Singapore, it is US$331.796 million versus US$133.365 million (a difference of US$198.431 million).
The ADB’s study also estimated the remittances from the one million-strong Filipinos in Malaysia will amount to US$1.219 billion. However, unlike the ADB study, the BSP website did not contain separate remittances data from Malaysia-based Filipinos, majority of whom are undocumented migrants in Sabah.
The BSP cited that across Asia, remittances from OFWs reached more than half-a-billion dollars as of the first seven months this year, and nearly a billion in 2004. The BSP figures, however, were nowhere near the ADB study’s high-end three-billion-dollar estimate, nor even the US$2.287-billion low-end estimate, that Filipinos in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia sent last year.
Estimates from four countries nearly half of actual monies from 190 countries
THE estimated remittances from Filipinos in the four East Asian countries, ranging from US$2.287 to US$2.941 billion, are some 39.64 percent to 50.97 percent of the BSP’s seven-month remittance figure this year of US$5.771 billion. The US$5.771 billion comes from the over-190 countries where Filipinos work and live temporarily or permanently.
The latest ADB study, done by an 11-person team led by Orozco, surveyed 2,500 remittance-senders and recipients who are Filipinos, Indonesians, and Malaysians coming from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia (Malaysian migrants from Japan and Singapore were the only ones surveyed by ADB).
BSP’s remittance data, meanwhile, now follows a format mandated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that captures: the monies of sea- and land-based overseas Pinoys coursed through formal banking channels; remittances coursed through informal channels and which the National Statistics Office records; and migrants’ gifts and donations that the BSP monitors.
Under the new format, the over-8.1 million Filipinos abroad sent home US$11.6 billion in 2004.
Some 175 million migrants worldwide remitted US$126 billion in 2004 through formal banking channels. If the remittances that passed through informal and unlicensed channels are to be included, the figure may be twice or thrice, says the World Bank’s 2005 Global Development Finance report.