A TRADE official in Central Visayas has sought the assistance of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) in obtaining a breakdown of dollar remittances sent to the Philippines by region.
Asteria Caberte, director of the Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas (DTI-7), said this will help the agency craft policies and programs for the region based on these figures.
“For example, we can focus our efforts on targeting OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) if we know how much the remittances are,” she told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Caberte first brought the idea up during a multi-sectoral forum at the BSP Cebu regional office on Tuesday.
OFW remittances make up a huge chunk of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), placing the sector on the DTI’s prospective list of investors.
Recent BSP data showed that cash remittances from OFW reached a record $26.9 billion in 2016, up by 5 percent from $25.61 billion in 2015
The trade official said she saw a potential in the OFW segment for the agency’s investment promotion efforts, particularly for the construction industry and franchising sector.
Most residential project developers in Cebu have reported selling at least 40 percent of their units to OFWs, which Caberte described as a trend that has driven the growth of construction over time.
Caberte also said that if they are able to determine how much OFWs are sending to Central Visayas, they would be able to measure the capacity of these individuals to invest in franchise businesses in the Philippines.
“Government can draw up a lot of programs if there is correct information. I have been asking for that since time immemorial,” said Caberte.
She said the figures she was asking for could be included in Central Visayas’ Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP).
Rosabel Guerrero, director of BSP’s economic statistics department, however, said that while they can determine the country of origin, it was still difficult to specify which parts of the country money sent home by OFWs was transferred to.
“That is what we have been requesting banks to provide, but they say it is very difficult to track how much of this is allocated to different regions,” she said.
Guerrero said that dollar remittances are consolidated in a bank’s main office and once distributed to regional branches, these are lumped with other types of transfers, making them hard to trace.
She said what can be done in the meantime is to help local government units establish their own community-based monitoring systems, which would be used to provide information on remittances. This has been implemented in some towns and regions, she added, while there also have been estimates on regional remittance volume by research institutions.
“We are really looking at how this information can be generated. We hope this can be a work plan we can implement in the future,” said Guerrero.