The possible effects of Saudi Arabia’s decision to stop granting work permits to domestic helpers from the Philippines were downplayed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo told reporters Friday that the future displacements from the decision of the Kingdom to stop hiring domestic workers “would only be temporary.”
The central bank official added that over the past 10 years, the number of Filipino household helpers in Saudi Arabia “has gone down” significantly as more professional and skilled Filipino workers are employed.
The displaced Filipinos from Saudi Arabia may turn to Bahrain or United Arab Emirates for employment, according to Guinigundo.
There are about 1.2 million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia, of which nearly 180,000 are employed as maids.
Just like in the past, overseas Filipino workers will always have a place somewhere around the globe when displacement problems take place, Guinigundo pointed out. “We had two Gulf wars but there was no dislocation of Filipino workers.”
Similarly, when the civilian unrest started in strife-torn Libya, Philippine authorities expected that at least 10,000 displaced OFWs would avail themselves of the currency exchange facility for Libyan dinars. But only 1,575 OFWs did transactions under the facility last March.
Prior to the launch of the Libyan dinar currency exchange facility, the local currency in the war-torn country led by strongman Muammar Gadhafi was not convertible to Philippine pesos.
OFW remittances in 2010 grew by 8.2 percent to a record $18.76 billion from $17.35 billion in 2009, due to the continued demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad as well as the expansion of remittance centers.
Central bank data showed that the Middle East accounted for about 16 percent of the total OFW remittances last year.
Remittances from the Middle East posted a double-digit growth of 11.2 percent to $2.96 billion last year, from $2.66 billion. More than half, or $1.644 billion, came from Saudi Arabia. — JE/VS, GMA News