Remittances growth slows to 5.6pc

Overseas Pakistanis sent home remittances worth $17.841 billion during July-May 2015-16, reflecting a year-on-year growth of 5.6 per cent, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Friday.

Remittances stood at $16.898bn during the same period of the preceding fiscal year.

However, this year’s growth rate was much lower than the 17.9pc recorded in the 11-month period of 2014-15.

Remittances are expected to touch $19bn during the outgoing fiscal year, with the addition of another $1bn this month.

The country’s dependence on Arab countries for remittances has further increased this year. Of the total, about $11.505bn (64.5pc) was remitted from the region.

The region is the biggest importer of manpower from Pakistan but the trade with the region is highly imbalanced and is vastly in favour of Arab countries.

The 11-month remittances were higher than the foreign exchange reserves held by the SBP built on borrowing from international financial institution (IFIs) and raising dollars through selling of bonds in the international market.

SBP-held forex reserves stood at $16.462bn as of June 3. However, the country’s total reserves were $21.266bn, including $4.8bn held by the banks. A comparison of reserves with remittances clearly indicates that Pakistan’s dependence on remittance is much more than any other source, mainly because of falling exports.

In the current budget proposals, the government announced multiple measures to boost the exports of goods and services, but no strategy was announced to promote export of manpower. Reports indicate that India has captured Gulf markets, particularly in the segments of high-tech and high-salaried jobs.

Media reports also suggest that most of low-level jobs would be abolished for foreigners in Saudi Arabia, which would hit Pakistanis.

During July-May FY16, the highest amount of remittances came from Saudi Arabia ($5.385bn), followed by $3.930bn from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Remittances from Gulf Cooperation Council countries other than Saudi Arabia and the UAE were $2.19bn; however, the growth from the region was the highest at 11.6pc.

Remittances from the United States fell 8pc to $2.248bn while the remittances from the United Kingdom rose 6.6pc to $2.269bn. Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2016

 

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