In worrying sign, remittances down 20% year-on-year

Published: October 11, 2017
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A person walks out of a Western Union branch in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

A person walks out of a Western Union branch in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Overseas Pakistani workers sent home $1.294 billion in September 2017, down 20% compared with $1.612 billion in the same month of last year, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Tuesday.

Inflow during September 2017 has shown a significant decline of 34% when compared with $1.954 billion, the amount the country received in August 2017.

Pakistan, UK firms join hands to offer digital remittance services

Overall, overseas Pakistani workers remitted $4.79 billion in the first three months (July to September) of fiscal year 2017-18, up 1% compared with $4.74 billion received during the same period in the preceding year.

Inflow from Saudi Arabia declines the most

Remittances to Pakistan from Gulf countries, which historically accounted for the largest share annually, dropped drastically due to a sharp fall in crude oil prices that hurt the region’s economies.

Resultantly, thousands of Pakistanis lost their jobs over the past two years or so, especially in Saudi Arabia – the largest source of remittances for Pakistan contributing over 25% to total receipts.

Remittances coming from Saudi Arabia dropped considerably in September 2017, reducing 30% from $438 million September 2016 to $308 million. Remittances from the UAE totalled $303 million, down 16.2% from $362 million in September 2016.

Overseas Pakistanis in the US sent home $172 million in September 2017, down 18.4% from $211 million in the same month of previous year. Remittances from the UK stood at $195 million, down 7% from $210 million.

Remittances down 7% in April

Pakistanis living in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, sent $141 million in September 2017, down 23% compared with $182 million in September 2016.

Remittances coming from the European Union (EU) countries stood almost flat at $45 million, up 2.2% from $44 million in the same month of 2016. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries amounted to $130 million, down 21% compared with $165 million in September 2016.

Despite the global economic slowdown, remittances from EU countries are continuously increasing which augurs well for Pakistan’s economy. In fiscal year 2016-17, Pakistan received $483 million from EU states, up 15.5% compared with $418 million in FY16.

Pakistan received overall remittances of $19.3 billion in fiscal year 2016-17, down 3% compared with $19.91 billion in fiscal year 2015-16.

Remittances play a major role in stabilising Pakistan’s external sector, as they make up almost half the import bill and cover the deficit in the trade of goods account. Nevertheless, in recent times, they have come under pressure due to global economic slowdown on the back of low crude oil prices.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2017.

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