KARACHI: Remittances from overseas Pakistanis rose six per cent to $12.7 billion from $11.986bn during the first eight months (July-February) of this fiscal year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Thursday.

In February 2016, the inflow of workers’ remittances amounted to $1.516bn, which was 3.65pc higher than January 2016 and 6.74pc higher than February 2015. The inflows fell 10pc to $1.462bn in January compared to December.

The latest data showed that Saudi Arabia, which is currently at war with neighbouring Yemen and facing steep fall in its income from record low oil prices, remained the prime source of remittances.

Experts and analysts said Saudi Arabia was under serious financial stress but had excellent relations with Pakistan as reflected from the situation that Pakistanis were facing no job cuts.

Another development that may hurt the kingdom’s income was the entry of Iran in oil markets after lifting of international sanctions.

Of the total, remittances from Saudi Arabia in July-February FY16 amounted to $3.830bn, the highest from any country.

Remittances from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were the second highest at $2.083bn. Dubai showed the highest growth (at 35pc) in remittances during this period as inflows from the emirate jumped to $1.874bn.

Overseas Pakistanis residing in the United States and United Kingdom sent $1.739bn and $1.599bn, respectively.

Falling oil prices also helped Pakistan reduce the size of trade deficit, which has been a real cause for imbalances on external fronts. The country has so far saved about $3.3bn in oil import bill in the first seven months (July-January) of this fiscal year.

The collective impact of remittances and savings from oil import bill resulted into a cushion of about $16bn for the country, helping it maintain the reserves at $20.5bn.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2016

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