ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is estimated to see a modest 1.4 per cent growth — lowest in three years — in foreign remittance inflows during 2017 even though transfer of international funds to low- and middle-income nations appeared recovering after two years of decline.

The latest edition of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief released on Tuesday said the country had witnessed 12pc growth in remittances in 2015, which moderated to about 2.8pc in 2016 and is expected to grow by 1.4pc this year.

The brief said Pakistan stood fifth among top remittance receivers in 2016 with $19.8 billion, behind India’s $62.7bn, China’s $61bn, Philippines’ $29.9bn and Mexico’s $28.5bn. This was followed by $19bn sent to Nigeria, $16.6bn to Egypt and $13.7bn to Bangladesh.

However, Pakistan’s 6.9pc GDP remittances stood nowhere among the top remittance receivers in terms of GDP percentage as Kyrgyzstan stood top with 34.5pc, followed by Nepal (29.7pc) Sri Lanka (8.8pc) Bangladesh (6pc) and India (2.8pc).

The World Bank said remittances to India declined by 8.9pc to $62.7bn in 2016, and those to Bangladesh fell by an estimated 11.1pc. Nepal experienced unusually high growth in remittances, at 14.3pc in 2015, due to emigrants sending financial assistance after the earthquake. In 2016, remittance flows to Nepal declined by an estimated 6.7pc from the previous year’s high level. In Sri Lanka, the growth was estimated at 3.9pc in 2016.

Remittance growth in the region is projected to remain muted at 2pc because of low growth and fiscal consolidation in the Gulf region. Bangladesh’s remittance growth in 2017 is forecast at 2.4pc, India’s at 1.9pc, Pakistan’s at 1.4pc, and Sri Lanka’s at 1.3pc.

The World Bank also reported findings of the survey jointly conducted by the Global Knowledge Partner­ship on Migration and Deve­lopment and the Interna­tional Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2015 of recruitment costs paid by Pakistani construction workers in Saudi Arabia, saying they paid more than $4,000 on average upfront in recruitment fees. “Some pay as much as $9,000”.

A primary aim of the initiative, the World Bank said, was to work with other United Nations agencies and national statistical agencies to develop the recruitment cost indicator as part of Sustainable Development Goals indicator.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2017

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