(Screenshot grabbed from Philippine Migration Research Network Facebook page)

THOMASIAN experts raised the likelihood of an economic recession due to remittance losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and suggested ramping up infrastructure to jumpstart the economy in a seminar streamed via Facebook Live last April 20.

Asst. Prof. Jeremiah Opiniano of the Faculty of Arts and Letters and Prof. Alvin Ang, an economics professor from Ateneo de Manila University and a former UST faculty member, forecasted a loss of $3 billion to $6 billion in total remittances, with 300,000 to 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by layoffs and pay cuts amid the pandemic.

“Whatever the amount in between that range, it will be the steepest drop in the year-on-year on history,” Opiniano said.

Ang said expenditures of families, especially households who rely on remittances sent by their relatives abroad, would have to be limited to only the “essentials.”

“We know that remittances and our OFWs have long been our heroes for almost decades. [They] basically have kept our economy afloat during difficult times,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority earlier reported that 12 percent of Filipino households “have or had an OFW member.” The Commission on Filipinos Overseas in 2019 said 10.3 million Filipinos were dispersed in 200 countries.

In an online interview with the Varsitarian, Opiniano said remittances could also be used strategically by some families, as capital to start a business enterprise.

“The key.. [is for] remittances abroad to be used as capital for farm inputs in order to boost farming or by families to open businesses back home, especially if they are manufacturing businesses, relying less on remittances is a medium-to-long-term goal of the home country,” he said.

The experts suggested ramping up construction to accommodate more jobs, since there would be a surge of OFWs being repatriated and local workers unemployed.

“Historically, in past crises, infrastructure is what you do to jump-start the economy. This could be one way to take advantage of the situation,” Ang said.

Ang also called for a skills upgrade of workers to match industry requirements.

“If gradually you begin lifting the lockdown, you begin to match the industries you allow to open,” he said.

The online seminar, titled “Migration Dialogues: Overseas Filipinos and the Pandemic,” was conducted under the Philippine Migration Research Network Facebook page in collaboration with the Philippine Social Science Council.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.