KARACHI: Remittances from overseas Pakistanis jumped 10 per cent to $10.718 billion during the first six months of this fiscal year as compared to $9.744bn in same period last year, reported the State Bank of Pakistan on Thursday.
However, inflows in December 2018 edged lower by 1.9pc year-on-year to $1,690.18m, from $1,723.57 in the same period of 2017. Meanwhile, on a monthly basis, remittances were up 5pc or $82m.
The data reveal that Saudi Arabia remained the biggest source of inflows as Pakistani workers in the kingdom remitted $2.567bn during the first half of this fiscal year. This represented a 1.46pc increase from $2.53bn recorded in 1HFY18.
The United Arab Emirates closely followed with inflows of $2.292bn, up 6.1pc, over $2.16bn in the same period last year.
Malaysia is also emerging as a major source of remittances with recent inflows surging by 46pc — highest growth from any destination — during this period. Remittances from Malaysia rose to $735m as against $501m in 1HFY19.
The United States and the United Kingdom remained healthy contributors. Inflows from the US grew 29.3pc to $1.655bn while UK remittances were up 13.5pc to $1.533bn. during the period under review.
On the other hand, inflows from Gulf Cooperation Council countries declined by 7pc to $1.047bn while those of EU dipped 1.3pc to $310m.
Pakistan ranks fifth worldwide in amount of remittances received.
The government has been seeking dollars from a number of friendly countries to meet its twin deficits as well as trying to boost remittances by luring overseas Pakistanis.
Remittances are now half of the import bill and almost equal to export proceeds but Pakistan still needs more than $18bn by FY19-end. Pakistan had received about $20bn in the last fiscal.
The country is also planning to send about 100,000 labourers to Qatar which could give a huge push to annual inflows.
The government further announced that Saudi Arabia is likely to invest $15bn in Pakistan while more investment from other countries may follow. These inflows could partially offset the twin deficits, low foreign exchange reserves and exchange rate imbalances.
Reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan further decreased by $239 million to $7.05 billion during the week ended on Jan 4 on account of debt servicing and other official payments.
Holdings of the commercial banks were recorded at $6.55bn while the total liquid reserves of the country amounted to $$13.597bn.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2019