DOLE expects 30-40 pct cut in remittances after COVID-19 displaces 400,000 OFWs

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2020 07:17 PM

People fall in line as they wait for a money remittance center to open in Sauyo, Quezon City on March 25, 2020. Jimmy Domingo, ABS-CBN News/File Photo

MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it expected overseas Filipino workers' (OFW) remittances to be reduced by 30 to 40 percent this year as migrant workers continue to be displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Around 400,000 OFWs were laid off in various countries hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a hybrid Senate hearing.

"Based on the number of repatriation we are getting and on the number of displaced OFWs, we are expecting a reduction of around 30 to 40 percent," he said of OFW remittances that for many years have supported the Philippine economy.

It translates to some $10 billion (P499.9 billion), he said.

In April, Former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia estimated that the COVID-19 crisis would lead to a decrease of 20 to 30 percent of dollar remittances from Filipino migrant workers.

Cash remittances from OFWs hit a record $30 billion (P1.5 trillion) in 2019, strengthening the peso against the dollar, and giving Filipinos more domestic spending capacity.

Aside from threats of retrenchment due to the global health and economic crisis, OFWs are also facing the risk of being infected with COVID-19, especially in the Middle East.

The Department of Foreign Affairs reported Wednesday that 8,351 Filipinos abroad have contracted the disease, of whom, 2,767 are still undergoing treatment.

The majority of 5,072 have recovered while 512 succumbed to the disease.

More than half of the cases are from the Middle East and Africa, while the rest are from Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas.