Strong peso compels OFWs to tighten belt

REACTING to the strong appreciation of peso against the dollar that broke into 43.3:1 exchange rate last week, an alliance of Filipino migrant rights group based in the Middle East said the strong peso spells out another round of belt tightening for OFWs and their dependents amid a series of price increases of goods and services.

“Obviously, stronger peso against the dollar would financially hurt if not put OFWs and their families on dire economic drawback considering that the prices of basic goods and services are continuously rising,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said it is the OFWs’ apprehension every time peso is showing strong appreciation against the dollar. He cited 2006 when the peso-dollar rate was about 48:1 then reached a peak of 56:1 on the same year.

He explained that time an OFW’s 1000 dollars is about 45,000 if converted to peso, but now it is only about P43,000 with the peso’s better appreciation against the dollar.

“This simply means an automatic reduction or loss of income of P2,000 using the example above, and such loss of income is more than the price of a sack of rice enough for an OFW family 1 month consumption,” Monterona explained.

Normally, Monterona said, skilled OFWs in Saudi Arabia and in other countries in the Middle East are receiving a monthly salary of US$400, while those at the service sector like domestic helpers are receiving a meager income of US$260 a month.

Monterona said the strong peso is hitting hard the OFWs and their family with the rising cost of living little less than P1,000 daily for a family with 6 members.

“The Aquino administration must do something about this, but not necessarily to directly intervene on the foreign exchange market,” Monterona opined.

“First is to work for lowering of the prices (goods and commodities) including basic services, or at least stabilize the prices; the high rate of inflation is softly ‘killing’ our people: the poor farmers and local workers including OFWs and their families,” he added.

“Creating a stabilization fund is also an option,” Monterona added.

“This may not be implemented under an administration that is pursuing an ‘austerity’ measure as has been reflected in budget cuts for government social services and programs of the national government proposed 2011 budget; but on the other hand is willing to increase the budget for debt payments and of the military,” Monterona said. D’Jay Lazaro

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