(MENAFN - Arab News) A Philippine Embassy official said in Riyadh in 2011 there were more or less 9 million OFWs around the world who had sent remittances worth 20.1 billion last year, representing a 7.2 percent rise over the figure of 18.3 billion registered the previous year.
Welfare Officer Romeo C. Pablo added the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom is 1,080,662, of whom 985,766 are OFWs and the rest temporary migrants.
Pablo made his statement at the launch of the Arab National Bank's partnership with Banko de Oro (BDO), who will work on ANB's TeleMoney initiative to serve OFWs in the Kingdom. The ceremony was held at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and attended by various community leaders and a number of OFWs working in the city.
The event was attended both by officials representing the two banks including Anwar Al-Murshid, head of TeleMoney Business, Shalimar Salomabao, TeleMoney division product manager, Jonathan C. Diokno, senior vice president and head of the BDO Remittance Origination. Tomas Victor Mendoza, first vice president of BDO Remittance Project, was also present.
BDO is a full-fledged bank in the Philippines and a member of the SM Group, one of the country's largest and most successful conglomerates with business enterprises spanning between retail, mall operations, property development and financial services.
Outlining the new services in his opening remarks, Salomabao said OFWs could now remit to the Philippines with better convenience and flexibility through BDO's extensive network of 700 branches, 46 SM Mall Forex counters and BDO onsite outlets. It also has 155 branches across rural bank partners.
He said direct deposits to BDO accounts was possible within 30 minutes and cash pick-ups at any BDO branches nationwide within 24 to 48 hours, among other services.
Speaking on the occasion, Pablo said the launch today would be a great help to the OFWs, especially their families.
"So today, as we celebrate the launch of the ANB and BDO TeleMoney and remittance service center based here in Riyadh, I can say these two innovative financial institutions play a very important role in the advancement of the welfare of the OFWs and their families. The expanding variety of products and services offered by ANB and BDO will surely help and support OFWs and their families," he said.
Manuel A. Amoran, secretary-general of the OFWs Congress who acted as moderator, reaffirmed remittances to the Philippines reached an all-time high last year, as demand for Filipinos workers remained strong even amid economic and political challenges confronting labor markets in the West and the Middle East.
He said there were remittances of 20.1 billion in 2011, marking a 7.2 percent rise over the 18.3 billion registered the previous year. The growth in remittances was due to the increasing demand for Filipino workers from foreign employers including Saudi Arabia.
The biggest sources of remittances last year were the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the UK. He said cash transfers from overseas Filipinos continued to be a major contributor in stimulating domestic demand.
However, remittances passing through alternative or illegal channels had increased from 25 to 70 percent of total OFW remittances, he said.
"Imagine if we use the proper channels in sending remittances to our loved-ones. Therefore, the remittances programs of BDO for OFWs have conducted tie-up arrangements with foreign banks or banks in host countries, promoting greater use of the formal remittances system."
Al-Murshid said ANB-TeleMoney was established in 1992 starting with the TeleMoney Center at Batha Riyadh. He said TeleMoney was the market leader for Philippine remittances in the Kingdom, as most of OFWs trusted the service. TeleMoney also has the fastest credit to account service.
TeleMoney also expanded network coverage to almost 100 remittance centers nationwide, providing increased convenience and accessibility to their customers.
"We also enhanced our correspondent bank networks in the Philippines by recently adding BDO to our existing roster of Philippine banks such as PNB, RCBC, BPI & Metrobank. In the coming months Land Bank of the Philippines and China Bank will be on board for ANB-TeleMoney to provide better remittance services to OFWs in the Kingdom," said Al-Murshid.
By ABDUL HANNAN TAGO