Philippines a world 'model' for migrant worker support: World Bank

Jessica Fenol and Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 09 2017 11:45 AM

MANILA - The Philippines serves as a "model" in terms of support for its migrant workers, the World Bank said Monday, as it called for the easing of restrictions on labor migration.

Both countries that send and receive migrant workers can benefit from labor migration with the right policies, the Washington-based lender said in a report.

Some 2 million Filipinos work overseas, according to government data and dollar remittances account for 10 percent of the economy. President Rodrigo Duterte, who assumed office last year, promised to create a government department specifically for overseas workers.

"The highly-developed support system for migrant labor in the Philippines can serve as a model for other countries," the World Bank said.

Migration procedures in Southeast Asia are "restrictive," the World Bank said, adding governments should exercise "more oversight" on recruitment agencies.

"Barriers such as costly and lengthy recruitment processes, restrictive quotas on the number of foreign workers allowed in a country and rigid employment policies constrain workers' employment options and impact their welfare," the bank said.

Restrictive policies are due to the misconception that receiving migrant workers would negatively affect the host country's economy, the bank said.

In Malaysia a 10-percent increase in migrant workers for low-skilled jobs boosted real gross domestic product by 1.1 percent. In Thailand, GDP would fall by 0.7 percent without migrant workers, it said.

The World Bank said Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have emerged as regional hubs for labor migration, accounting for 6.5 million migrant workers or 95 percent of the total from 1995 to 2015, the bank said.

“With the right policy choices, sending countries can reap the economic benefits of out-migration while protecting their citizens who choose to migrate to work," World Bank chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific Sudhir Shetty said.

“Inappropriate policies and ineffective institutions mean that the region is missing opportunities to gain fully from migration,” Shetty said.