KARACHI: Remittances refused to pick up pace as first quarter data shows slight declines from last year.

Overseas Pakistanis in the first quarter of current fiscal year remitted $5.478 billion, down 1.4 per cent from $5.557bn in the same period last fiscal year, data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) showed on Thursday.

Inflows during September registered a year-on-year increase of 17.6pc to reach $1.747bn compared to corresponding month last year.

Country wise data showed that workers living in Saudi Arabia sent home $1.269bn during the quarter under review, posting meager growth of 0.49pc from $1.263bn during the corresponding period last year.

However, inflows from one of the leading destinations, the United Arab Emirates declined by a massive 7.19pc to $1.13bn compared to $1.22bn in the same quarter last year.

September inflows rise 17pc

Pakistani workers living in the Gulf Cooperation Council – other than Saudi and the UAE – sent home $519m, down 1.43pc from $526m in the corresponding quarter of last fiscal year.

The data showed that inflows from the gulf economies have either declined or remained unchanged as the growth outlook for the Arab Gulf economies was lowered for the ongoing fiscal year.

The region’s economies have suffered amid oil output cuts, low crude prices and sluggish non-oil growth.

On the other hand, inflows from the United States increased to $911 million from $862m last year. Remittances from the United Kingdom rose by 0.52pc to $814m.

In Pakistan, however, the government is struggling to manage its current account deficit and foreign exchange inflows from remittances are one of the key components of the equation.

The government must find other destinations to export its skilled and unskilled labour to decrease its dependence on Gulf, the UK and the US.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2019