High inflation offsets OFW’s gains from strong dollar

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THE gains realized by overseas Filipino workers from the strong US dollar and weak peso are being negated by rising consumer prices at home, ACTS-OFW partylist Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III said over the weekend.

“The inflationary impact of rising oil prices has eroded whatever higher value migrant workers are getting from their earnings in dollars,” Bertiz said.

The pace of the increase in the prices of basic goods and services, as measured by the inflation rate, hit 5.2 percent in June, the highest in more than five years, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday.

To ease the jolt of soaring consumer prices, Bertiz pressed banks to lower their average 10.57 percent transfer charge on the money sent home by migrant workers.

“Reducing the cost of bank remittance services to five percent would mean some $1.5 billion or P80.1 billion in cost-savings and extra money in the pockets of our migrant workers and their families every year,” Bertiz said.

Overseas Filipinos sent home $28.1 billion in “personal cash” through the banking system in 2017, and another $4.9 billion via non-bank remittance channels, Bertiz said, citing figures from both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the World Bank (WB).

Bertiz meanwhile urged migrant workers “to protect themselves and their families by saving and investing persistently.”

The peso has fallen by six percent against the dollar in the last 12 months alone.

The peso-dollar rate closed the first semester on June 29 at 53.52:1, down from 50.46:1 a year ago, based on a review of the BSP’s daily exchange rate bulletins.

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC crude oil price has so far averaged $67 per barrel this year versus $52 in 2017, $40 in 2016 and $49 in 2015, according to Hamburg, Germany-based Statista Research and Analysis.

As a result, the Department of Energy said the common price of diesel in the Philippines surged to P43.49 per liter in June from P35.20 in January, while the common price of gasoline rose to P53.55 per liter from P47.85 over the same period.

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