Wednesday, May 7, 2008

news from the desert

Hello everyone.I will share this news from to give you some ideas on whats going on to our lives as OFW.

OFWs in Middle East complain of double whammy

Overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East are experiencing "double-bladed" inflation: rising commodity prices at home and back home.
Riyadh-based OFW Francis Oca said they started to feel the "double-bladed" attack as early as July last year.
In an e-mail message to, Oca said that at his jobsite in Riyadh, the annual rent for his apartment has gone up from SR16,000 to SR19,000 (P160,000 to P190,000), which translates to a 19% increase.
The price of "broast chicken" or breaded roast chicken, the most common meal, has risen from SR10 to SR12 (P100 to P120), a 20% increase.
A small can of light tuna, which used to cost SR2.50, is now SR3.25 (P25 to P32.50), a 30% increase.
Prices of other basic commodities, like rice, fish, and soap, all went up by an average of 30%.
“Only the prices of milk and petroleum products have not gone up,” Oca said.
Prices back home
Back home, Oca said that despite the strong peso and high economic growth, tuition, transport and food costs have gone up between 30% to 50% since January 2007.
Even if the price increase is on the low side, it still has a big impact on his purchasing power.
“I am receiving SR3,000 monthly. Before, I used to allocate SR1,000 for our food, rent, transport. SR1,000 was allocated for expenses at home, excluding rent since I already own a house, and SR1,000 was set aside for savings,” he said.
“I am still receiving SR3,000 monthly. But now, I have to allocate SR1,300 for our food, rent, transport. SR1,300 is allocated for expenses at home. The remaining SR400 is reserved for emergencies and savings."
Thus, Oca can no longer save as much as he used to. "Before, I am able to save around P15,000 a month. Now I am only able to save around P4,000.”
“OK pa ang situation ko, puwede pang pagtiagaan. Pero paano na lang yong iba na mas mababa ang sueldo? (My situation is still tolerable. But how about those who earn less?),” he said.
OFWs in the UAE
OFW Tess Pascual said that in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), things are a lot worse because prices of all commodities, including milk and oil, have gone up.
"Although we have no taxes to pay, we are paying more. With so many fees and dues adding up to our monthly bills, we are being held up every pay day after paying our monthly dues and rentals, leaving just a dash of our salary to spend for our personal needs,” she said.
OFWs are greatly affected by the decreasing value of the dollar against the peso.
Three years ago, the rental for a two-bedroom flat was only P230,000 annually, but this has more than doubled.
“A couple of years ago, I gave up my flat and rented just a room since I am living alone. I have to sacrifice waking up early, bearing with the traffic hassles every morning and night. My travel time is three hours in the morning and three hours at night just to reach the office on time. My room rent is even more expensive than the rental of our two-bedroom apartment in Manila,” Pascual said.
"To summarize how the double-bladed attack affected me and my family, my monthly expense allocation two years back here in the Gulf was P20,700 including bill payments, food, rental transportation and personal necessities. I was earning P54,000 then.”
Two years ago, Pascual's monthly remittance was US$500 or Php25,500 for her family’s monthly expenses (excluding tuition fees). She used to be able to save up to $300 monthly for emergencies and sent $200 for tuition fee payments (installment).
Stretching salaries
“Before, we OFWs could still afford to treat ourselves once a month. But now, we have to tighten our belts and keep track of our expenses,” Pascual said.
With the price increases and “with the same salary I am getting monthly," she said, "I don’t know how I could budget anymore. I have to tighten the belt even more because I can no longer stretch it [income].”
Pascual had to do away with a lot of comforts in Dubai just to be able to send almost the same amount to the Philippines. For her, the strengthening of the peso meant giving up car pooling. Taking public transport instead allowed her to cut costs.
Pascual also moved to a small room. The rent is less than half of what used to pay renting an apartment.
“My remittance has gone up, and it's really embarrassing to be working abroad and yet have a negative balance on paydays,” Pascual said.
Save in Euro
Dominador Macaldo, also a Riyadh-based OFW, said one way to help cope with rising prices would be to convert savings to Euro accounts.“To minimize our losses in the devaluation of the dollar, the riyal and the dirham, I think that it is better for us to convert our excess money or our savings to Euro or British Pound. At least our savings will not be affected by the continuous downfall of the US currency,” Macaldo said.“I am sorry to say but this solution will benefit only those who are getting a higher salary. For those who are getting low salary, life will really be very hard for them," he said.“I don’t think that our economy is really in good health as Arroyo claimed. You be the judge,” Macaldo said.

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