It is my pleasure to be here today to commemorate the International Day of Family Remittances, with a strong call for “Recovery and Resilience through Digital and Financial Inclusion.”
I thank our dear friends and partners in this endeavor: Guatemala and IFAD, as well as the Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development Network.
The Philippines, along with Guatemala, Madagascar and Algeria, led the adoption in 2018 of the landmark resolution declaring June 16 as the International Day of Family Remittances. The resolution recognizes the link between remittances and sustainable development; and acknowledges the fundamental contribution of migrant workers to the well-being of their families and communities of origin.
I introduced the resolution in the General Assembly and distinctly remember that it was adopted on 12 June, our Independence Day — a fitting tribute to the hard work and sacrifices of all overseas Filipino workers who send remittances to improve the lives of their families and to create a future for their children back home.
According to the World Bank data, the Philippines is the fourth-largest recipient of remittances globally. In 2020, remittances reached US$33.2 billion and accounted for 9.2% of the country’s GDP.
Our advocacy in keeping the continuous flow of remittances is focused on maximizing the benefits to senders and receivers of remittances.
We thus support initiatives that mitigate the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on remittance flows, migrants, members of the diaspora communities and the families, communities and economies that rely on receiving remittances.
Last year, remittances from Overseas Filipinos posted a contraction of 0.8 percent, but we received this as good news since it proved wrong the two-digit decline forecasted by many analysts in view of the pandemic. For this year, we expect remittances to grow by 4.0 percent.
This is a testament not only to the dedication of overseas Filipinos to ensure the well-being of their families and loved ones no matter the circumstances; but also to their perseverance and resilience amidst unprecedented challenges.
The Philippine Government, through policies that ensure digital and financial inclusion of Filipinos, both at home and overseas, has also created the enabling environment for recovery from the pandemic and resiliency moving forward.
The thrust of the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2020-2023 of the Central Bank of the Philippines to promote financial inclusion and digitalization of payments are mutually reinforcing, each enabling the other. This Roadmap is anchored on three pillars: (i) digital payment streams, (ii) digital finance infrastructure and (iii) digital governance standards, with two primary objectives: to expand financial inclusion to 70 per cent of Filipino adults and to encourage innovations which will boost real-time payments.
In April this year, we reached a milestone in our banking history with the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) officially becoming the first branchless digital-only bank in the country’s history after securing a digital banking license from the Central Bank of the Philippines.
This is a bank that is dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirements of overseas Filipinos. Aside from deposit savings accounts, the OFBank digital services also includes fund transfers, bills payments and applications for multipurpose loans.
The Philippines is committed to the resilience of the remittance sector. The transformative potential of the benefits of remittances in the lives of migrant workers, their families, their communities and their countries are huge. If leveraged, coupled with digital and financial inclusion, we could together, as a global community, responsibly and decisively attain our shared commitment to leave no one behind.