The Philippine government is still hoping for record high cash remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) despite the coronavirus disease (Covid 19) outbreak as it remains uncertain when the spread can be contained.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said OFWs are still expected to remit a record high USD34.2 billion (PHP1.74 trillion) to the country this year.
In 2019, OFW remittances reached a record high of US33.5 billion (PHP1.70 trillion).
Initially, he said OFW remittances were expected to increase with a projected growth rate of 3 percent which is equivalent to USD34.5 billion (PHP 1.75 trillion) in remittances for 2020.
The government adjusted its growth projections to 2.2 percent and now expects USD34.2 billion in remittances for 2020 due to the Covid 19 outbreak.
Nograles admitted that the government expects the outbreak to have a minimal impact on OFW remittances.
He said mainland China accounts for 0.1 percent of total OFW remittances, while its special administrative regions Macao and Hong Kong account for 0.4 percent, and 2.7 percent, respectively.
We expect that the Covid 19 outbreak could dampen our total cash remittance growth in 2020 by 0.8 percentage points, from 3.0 percent to 2.2 percent, he said during the Laging Handa press conference on Monday.
Citing the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), he said remittances from other source countries such as the United States, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia may help compensate for the possible slowdown in remittances coming from China, Macao, and Hong Kong.
We are encouraged by historical data that shows that PH remittances have been resilient even in the face of global downtrends, he said.
Meanwhile, he said economic managers expect minimal impact from the Covid 19 outbreak in the agriculture sector, particularly on exports.
He said the country's banana exports to China are not slowing down.
While there were previous logistical issues during the Chinese Lunar New Year break, this was only a temporary setback, and our banana exports to China have returned to normal, he said.
Reports showed that the number of deaths from Covid 19 has risen to 2,465 worldwide. There are at least 78,800 cases globally, and 23 deaths outside mainland China.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) said there are 132 patients under investigation (PUIs) for Covid 19 who are currently admitted in hospitals while 474 PUIs having been discharged after testing negative.
Two of the three initial confirmed cases of Covid 19 have already recovered from the disease, with one fatality which means there are currently no more confirmed cases in the country, the DOH said.
SOURCE: PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY