ISLAMABAD: World Bank’s new estimates released on Thursday placed Pakistan among top 10 recipients of remittances among developing countries, fetching $12 billion this year.
India leads with $58 billion followed by China at $57 billion, Mexico $24 billion and the Philippines $23 billion.
Bangladesh follows Pakistan with $12 billion, Nigeria 11 billion, Vietnam $9 billion and Egypt and Lebanon $8 billion each.
Remittance costs have fallen steadily from 8.8 per cent in 2008 to 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2011.
The ‘Outlook for Remittance Flow 2012-14’ shows that the officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to have reached $351 billion in 2011, up 8 per cent over 2010.
Worldwide remittance flows, including those to high-income countries, reached $406 billion in 2011 and are expected to rise to $515 billion by 2014.
There are several sources of vulnerability to forecasts for remittances to developing countries.
The ongoing debt crisis in Europe and high unemployment rates in high-income OECD countries are adversely affecting economic and employment prospects of migrants.
These persistently high unemployment rates have created political pressures to reduce current levels of immigration.
There are risks that if the European crisis deepens, immigration controls in these countries could become even tighter.
This would affect remittance flows to all regions – especially to countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The World Bank report says that high oil prices, which have hovered over $100 a barrel in recent months, continue to provide a much-needed cushion for migrant employment in, and remittance flows from, the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and Russia. Oil driven economic activities and increased spending on infrastructure development are making these countries attractive for migrants from developing countries.
Remittances from the GCC countries to Bangladesh and Pakistan where the GCC countries account for 60 per cent or more of overall remittance inflows grew by 8 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively in the first three quarters of 2011 on a year-on-year basis.
The Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI), a joint initiative of the central bank and Pakistan’s government, has been working actively with commercial banks and money transfer operators to lower the cost of inward remittances and improve the payments systems and delivery channels in order to bring a larger share of remittances into formal channels.
The indigenisation programmes being considered or implemented in the GCC countries like the ‘Nitaqat’ programme in Saudi Arabia have raised concerns of adverse implications for future remittances to the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other migrant-sending countries, it says.