Thursday, February 24, 2011
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 24, 2011-Senator Manny Villar, who chairs the Senate trade panel urged the government to be ready with job programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to get employed at once and should start stitching up economic safety nets for the thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East who will be forcibly repatriated as the regional conflagration escalates.
Villar said that once the Midde East-OFWs returned, it has economic impact for they will be bloated in the jobless statistics where the Technological Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) could step in to take lead in providing skill training programs to provide job opportunities for them.
He said that as more Middle East-OFWs come home, the consumer spending which was currently riding on the spending appetite of OFW families will likewise slowdown, adding that they would also drive them to be conservative on their spending and ultimately hurt businesses would be the psychological effect to them and their families not directly affected by the Middle East turmoil.
“Aside from shattered dreams, one big casualty of the Middle East unrest is the expected dwindling of US dollar remittances from OFWs in the region that is being rocked by pro-democracy rallies that is threatening to engulf the entire Arab bloc,” Villar said, adding that the Middle East alone is home to more than two million dollar-remitting OFWs, whose monthly remittance could drastically dwindle if the unrest continues.
Villar said OFWs in Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Libya are now facing bleak employment future because of the protest rallies in its capital cities by the pro-democracy movements that are spreading wildfires and caught in the middle are our OFWs.
Record shows that there are more than 31,000 OFWs in Bahrain, 1,500 employed OFWs in Yemen, 26,000 OFWs in Libya, and about 1,000 Filipino workers in Iran.
“I would dread the day when the civil uprising spills over to neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest employer of OFWs reaching 1.5 million and collectively remitting some $1.3 billion annually,” Villar said, saying that the latest order of the government to freeze deployment to Bahrain, Yemen and Libra would further hurt the potential growth in OFW remittances from the region.
“The government should not expect another banner year of OFW remittances this 2011 because of the Middle East situation compared to last year’s $18.76 billion record remittances turned in by OFWs around the globe may now be a difficult to beat or replicate,” he said, unless that the unrest simmers down soon, the government may have to look for another economic booster other than the dollars sent by OFWs.
“The foreign banks estimate that the projected OFW’s remittance of $20.5 billion this year is a pipe dream,” he furthered.
Earlier, Villar called on government to assess the economic impact of the Middle East turmoil to local oil prices and ensure the welfare of OFWs in the said place. (Jason de Asis)
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