FORMER lawmaker and now OFW champion John Bertiz sees a huge decline of foreign cash remittances this year due to the coronavirus disease or COVID- 19 pandemic.
Bertiz, who chairs the ACTS-OFW Coalition of Organizations said the country will likely loose some $4.5 billion or P228 billion in cash remittance inflows from migrant Filipino workers.
He said, deployment from both seabased and landbased works overseas is badly affected as the deadly virus as it is now wreaking havoc in majority of countries in the globe.
“The P228 B or the 3 Billion US dollar losses or decrease in remittances of our OFW. We are only projecting this first up to second and third quarter of this year 2020,” Bertiz said.
Bertiz said migrant Filipino workers in the following sectors around the world are bearing the brunt of the economic destruction and job losses:
OFW Sectors affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic:
- Shipping (both merchant and cruise operations) and shipping-related support services;
- Aviation and aviation-related support services (including crewing operations, aircraft maintenance and catering);
- Travel and tour operations;
- Hotels, resorts and restaurants;
- Gaming; and
- Oil, gas and energy exploration and development (including related construction).
Not only that, the former lawmaker added that Filipino seafarers are expected to lose deployment especially those deployed in cruise.
The Philippines is the world’s second-largest supplier of licensed ship officers and the top provider of unlicensed ship ratings or non-officer crew.
Some 450,000 Filipino sailors serve on ocean-going bulk carriers, container ships, oil, gas, chemical and other product tankers, general cargo ships, pure car carriers and tugboats around the world.
Global ports operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICSTI) earlier reported that shipping container volumes across its terminals in 20 countries fell by 10-15 percent in March alone, and are expected to decline further in April.
OFW dollar remittances was the PH biggest source of foreign exchange income that keeps the economy afloat despite experiencing financial strains.
Cash transfers to families also translate to consumptions that contributes greatly to economic activity.
World Bank sees OFW remittances seen falling by 20%
On the same note, the world bank also sees a big decline of remittance flows to the Philippines as many Filipinos working and living abroad stood to lose employment while the global economy grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic,
The Washington-based World Bank said that even before the pandemic hit the world hard, Year-on-year growth in remittances to the country for January and February 2020 was 4.8 % and 4.4 % respectively, suggesting little slowdown to date.
Nonetheless the World Bank said that historically, countries hit by crises tended to receive more remittances as migrants supported their families back home.
But this time, many countries are affected by the virus.
Meanwhile, Bertiz said ACTS-OFW is counting on the government to provide financial assistance to Filipino workers overseas who have lost income under the “no work, now pay policy” of their employers.
“We must be prepared also to give livelihood hindi lang yung pansamantalang tulong we should come out with a program in partnership with different agencies like the Department of Labor, National Center for reintegration as well as TESDA kung paano po natin mabibigyan ng temporary o pansamantalang livelihood yung mga naistranded at ganon na rin po yung mga umuuwi nating mga kababayan,” Bertiz said.