Making remittances countBy Randell Tiongson on July 17th, 2011
I just finished a Practical Finance Seminar in Singapore a few hours ago and it’s inspiring to see a few dozen Filipinos working hard outside the country, sacrificing and doing their best to have a better life. It is even more encouraging to see them getting financially educated even if they have to listen to a boring speaker like me. Sights like this makes my job fulfilling and keeps my passion burning to help Filipinos get more and more financial education.
I saw a tweet from my good friend Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center where she stated statistics on OFW remittances that blew my mind away. She stated that in 1975, the remittances amounted to US$ 103 Million. Today, remittances are now up to US$ 2 Billion a month!
Unfortunately, I need to state some facts that continues to disturb me and should disturb every other Filipino. A recent study conducted to determine the financial quotient of Filipinos revealed that only 1 out of 10 Filipinos prepare for retirement. NEDA numbers placed the average savings rate of the Philippines at 16% as compared to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and our other neighbors well above 30%. Less than 50% of Filipinos actually own their home, and that includes those whose homes are mortgaged. Less than 0.5% of Filipinos invest in the Stock Market. Less than 15% of Filipinos (family heads) own Life Insurance. Investments in pooled funds (Mutual Funds, UITFs, Variable Life) remains to be amazingly low.
With the huge amount of remittances being sent to the country in the last 30 years, one would assume that Filipinos today would have more money and a vast majority of our population would have a secured financial future. With the facts I wrote, it seems that money being sent home plus the money being generated at the home front does not end up being put to good work by saving and investing it. Our capital markets continues to be underdeveloped despite the nation having excess liquidity. If money is not being invested for the future, then one can logically assumed that almost all the money now is being used for consumption. The level of consumption of the country has reached an alarming rate juxtaposed with dismal savings rates being experienced.
Why is this so? I dare say that despite an increase in income, us Filipinos have yet to fully develop our zest for financial education. Financial literacy is a political, cultural and social issue — one that must be given preferential attention by every Filipino. If not, all the growth in remittances coupled by improvement in local income will be for naught if one will not have a secured future.
Despite the daunting task, I and a number of passionate people will continue to advocate financial education despite the odds even if it take one Filipino at a time. I pray that more and more will heed the call to do our part in bringing about a big change in our attitudes about money and heed the path towards Financial Peace.