Sweden’s Comments on Overseas Filipino Workers

“Relying only on overseas Filipino workers’ remittances is not a sustainable way. The Philippine government must find ways to invest in the knowledge OFWs have gained from other countries to develop the domestic productive capabilities.” said Ambassador Annika Markovic to GMA news.TV.
Citing historical parallelism, Ambassador Marcovic said that a hundred years ago, Sweden and the Philippines had much in common. Both were poor rural countries. There were around four million Swedes and Filipinos were about the same.
The Swedish government allowed about one-fourth of the population to immigrate to rebuild their lives out there in foreign lands, especially the US.
“From the Swedish point of view, Swede immigrants [in the early 20th century] managed to restart their lives abroad. Like OFWs(Overseas Filipino Workers) of today, Swedes sent back money home. But many decided to move back. As they did, they brought with them money as well as good ideas from other countries.”
The most important thing, she said, is that the Swedes came back with new ideas. They introduced new ways of doing things, new technologies, among others. They started new businesses and in the process helped develop the economy.
To this end, she said, the Philippine government must provide returning OFWs opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills to help build up the local economy. Expatriates who have decided to move back should be given access to both short-term and long-term loans.
“As an economist, I am convinced that you can’t start a business if it’s going to grow with only your own savings. But it’s difficult for small savings to grow if you cannot go to a bank to borrow money at low interest for a long term,” she said.
The ambassador discourages the idea that OFWs be given financial support. She thinks it is unsustainable. Instead, they should develop entrepreneurial skills, which involve taking risks for themselves.
Meanwhile, Jeremaiah M. Opiniano, executive director of the Institute for Migration & Development Issues, wrote in his article published by the OFW Journalism Consortium that the International Monetary Fund confirmed of the weak link between OFW money and investment.

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