Remittances to Pakistan hit record high due to subdued Haj spending

Published August 17, 2020
The global economic slowdown had raised fears that remittances would decline given falling employment in countries from where most of the money is sent. — AFP/File
The global economic slowdown had raised fears that remittances would decline given falling employment in countries from where most of the money is sent. — AFP/File

Remittances from Pakistani workers employed abroad hit the highest level for a single month in July, officials said on Monday, increasing 36.5 per cent year on year, mostly thanks to less spending on Haj pilgrimages because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The global economic slowdown had raised fears that remittances, key to the country's dwindling foreign exchange reserves, would decline given falling employment in countries from where most of the money is sent — particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

But July remittances rose to $2.768 billion, the State Bank of Pakistan said, adding the increase was up 12.2pc from June, when remittance numbers were also high.

“More good news for Pakistan economy,” Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted. “Remittances from overseas Pakistanis reached $2768 million in July 2020, highest ever amount in one month in the history of Pakistan.”

Remittances from Saudi Arabia in July amounted to $821.6 million, the UAE $538.2 million, United Kingdom $393.9 million and United States $250.6 million.

“Given the impact of Covid-19 globally, this increase in workers remittance is encouraging,” the SBP said in a statement.

It added that the growth rate compared to the same month in 2019 was around twice as high because of decreased spending over the Eidul Azha season.

“Not much cash movement on flights or Haj and Umrah pilgrimages has taken place this year. This trend can continue for some months, which is a positive development for the economy,” Saad Hashemy, Executive Director BMA Capital Management, told Reuters.

The government has opened all sectors of the economy in a bid to revive the hard-hit economy. Pakistan has so far registered 289,458 positive Covid-19 cases of which 269,087 have recovered, with 6,184 deaths.

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