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Jan-Feb 2007 remittances by Filipinos in Dubai grow 96pc

BY JOSE N FRANCO JR / 29 April 2007

DUBAI — Remittances by some 20,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Dubai had increased by 96 per cent to Dh195.4 million in January to February 2007, from Dh100 million for the same two months last year, according to statistics released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The BSP said that in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, OFWs sent home Dh107.4 million in January to February, a 70 per cent increase from Dh63.2 million covering the same period in 2006.  

Some 250,000 OFWs in the entire UAE remitted a total of Dh303 million in January to February this year, an 86 per cent rise from Dh163.1 million for the same period last year.  

Vicente Liwanag Jr, Allied Bank's marketing representative for Dubai and Northern Emirates, said the figures "are heartening but hardly surprising" because Dubai or the UAE in general has really become one of the favourite destinations for OFWs.   "The Filipino here enjoy working and living in a multi-cultural environment and at the same time getting their salaries tax-free," Liwanag said. He added that the UAE is generally a friendly host-country to OFWs.     

Allied Bank is one of nine banks in the Philippines that offer remittances services to OFWs in the UAE through Al Fardan Exchange. The average charge per remittances service is Dh6.20.   The other Philippine banks doing monetary transactions in the UAE through Al Fardan and other foreign exchange centres are Land Bank of the Philippines, Banco de Oro, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Equitable PCI Bank, Metro Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and Asia United Bank.

The Philippine National Bank (PNB) has its own branch in Dubai.   Earlier, the BSP said OFWs in the UAE, mostly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, sent a total of Dh1.6 billion to their families in 2006, a big chunk of the Dh7 billion OFW remittances from the whole Middle East.   The BSP said a considerable share of Filipino remittances is being coursed through formal banking channels. 

However, non-banks-Western Union, LBC-and informal channels like the Express Padala services have done brisk business because of their accessibility, simple processes and customer awareness. Money sent through informal channels includes that being hand-carried by returning friends and relatives and cash or overtime pay brought home by OFWs themselves.   Western Union had been cited by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) to have cornered some 20 per cent of OFWs remittances to the Philippines in 2002. LBC and other small courier companies have captured a big market in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Gulf states.
 
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