Sending more money home
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
A report by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development found that migrant workers from the Asia-Pacific region sent $256 billion home last year but more needs to be done to cut costs and make money transfers easier.
The report said remittances that have risen about 5 percent since 2008 helped about 320 million family members across the region last year. It added that the 80 million migrant workers who send money home eight to 10 times per year usually pay about 7 percent in charges to use cash-to-cash transfers, a method commonly used by those without bank accounts. Those rates were as high as 20 to 25 percent a decade ago but more can be done to lower those rates that target migrant workers all over the world.
“It is crucial and critical to make sure these flows arrive fast and cheap,” remittance expert Pedro de Vasconcelos said. “It is a lifeline for millions of families”.
The current rates are above the 3-percent target set out by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 10 (reducing inequalities). De Vasconcelos urged those making and receiving remittances to embrace digital technology such as mobile phones for transferring money. Regulators and the private sector must also work together to harmonize the legal and regulatory frameworks between countries and support new technologies that enter the market, he said.
The Philippines is the third largest remittance-receiving nations in the world, raking in $33 billion. These remittances contributed and average 60 percent to a receiving household’s income and about 70 percent of remittances are spent on basic needs like food, clothes, health care and education for families that are mostly in rural areas. The remaining 30 percent is often saved and invested in income-generating activities or instruments, the report said.
With so many Filipino families depending on remittances, it should be a priority for our government to work with the private sector and find creative ways to reduce the cost of international money transfers for our sizeable migrant worker population and their family members who depend on their earnings.*