News reel


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Civil disobedience failed | Remittances hit $ 4.69 B

 Remittances grow 19.5%, hit $4.69b

Pakistanis based in foreign countries sent home $1.71 billion in September, which translates into an increase of 33.7% on a yearly basis. STOCK IMAGE
KARACHI: Paying little heed to passionate appeals by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, overseas Pakistanis seem to be in no mood to observe civil disobedience for now.
Despite Khan’s call to abandon formal banking channels for transferring money to their home country, overseas Pakistanis sent remittances amounting to $4.69 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. This reflects growth of 19.52% as the remittances totalled $3.92 billion during the same three-month period of the previous fiscal year.
As part of his ongoing protest in Islamabad that began in the first half of August, Khan had urged overseas Pakistanis to send money home via hundi, which is the illegal way of transferring currency across international borders.
But the year-on-year comparison of data shows the public has turned a deaf ear to Khan’s appeal to dodge official money transfer channels.
According to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday, Pakistanis based in foreign countries sent home $1.71 billion in September, which translates into an increase of 33.7% on a yearly basis.
Inflows from Saudi Arabia have been the largest source of remittances so far in 2014-15. They amounted to $1.34 billion in the first three months of the current fiscal year. They are up 21.77% from the corresponding period of 2013-14.
Remittances received during the last three months from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) increased 31.54% to $1.03 billion on a year-on-year basis. Inflows from the UAE registered the largest increase from any country during the last three months.
Remittances from the United States and the United Kingdom were $235.99 million and $218.38 million, respectively. The year-on-year increase in remittances from the US and the UK has been 10.77% and 4.67%, respectively.
Remittances from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, excluding Saudi Arabia and the UAE, clocked up at $545.04 million from July to September, which is 21.89% higher than the remittances received in the same period of the preceding fiscal year.
Remittances from Kuwait reached $200.6 million while those from Oman, Bahrain and Qatar amounted to $165.61 million, $90.5 million and $88.33 million, respectively.
Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the last month amounted to $125.33 million, up 47.8% from $84.75 million in the same month of the preceding fiscal year.
In the last fiscal year, overseas Pakistanis sent home $15.8 billion, which was 13.7% higher than the remittances of $13.9 billion received in 2012-13.
People associated with money-remitting businesses had predicted that a majority of overseas Pakistanis would refrain from remitting money illegally in response to Khan’s appeal to boycott legal banking channels. Their expectation was because of the convenience and cost-effectiveness that legal money transfer channels offer to overseas Pakistanis.
The SBP offers banks a rebate facility through the Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI). Under the rebate scheme, neither the remitter nor the beneficiary is supposed to pay any remittance fee to the money transfer company.
The SBP reimburses the Pakistan rupee equivalent of 25 Saudi riyals to banks upon each remittance of $100 or more, provided that senders and receivers of remittances do not have to pay any fee. The bank, in turn, shares the rebate with its respective money transfer company as per their mutual understanding.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2014.