Pakistan's $19.3 billion in remittance make up 6.9% of 2014 GDP, essentially closing the rising trade deficit amid the nation's falling exports.
The 12.8% increase over 2015 is substantial but it is down from 16.7% jump seen in 2014 over 2013. The report attributes the slower remittance growth from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to falling oil prices.
This report comes soon after the Panama Leaks that show how Pakistan's corrupt elite, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family, are moving and hiding in offshore tax havens the hard-earned dollars sent home by overseas Pakistanis to keep Pakistan's economy afloat.
|Overseas Remittances in South Asia Source: World Bank|
In Q4 of 2015, year-on-year growth of remittances to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia and the UAE were 11.7 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, a significant deceleration from 17.5 percent and 42.0 percent in the first quarter, said the report.
Global remittances, which include those to high-income countries, contracted by 1.7% to $581.6 billion in 2015, from $592 billion in 2014, the World Bank said.
India was the top recipient with $68.9 billion in remittances in 2015, a decline from $70 billion in 2014. This marks the first decline in remittances since 2009, according to the report.
The growth of remittances in 2015 slowed from 8% in 2014 to 2.5% for Bangladesh, from 16.7% to 12.8% for Pakistan, and from 9.6% to 0.5% for Sri Lanka. “Slower growth may reflect the impact of falling oil prices on remittances from GCC countries,” the report said.
The only country in South Asia to see dramatic growth in remittances was Nepal. The overseas Nepalese workers sent home $7 billion in 2015, an increase of 20.9 percent in 2015 versus 3.2 percent growth in 2014. After the devastating earthquake that hit the Himalayan nation, many Nepalese migrant workers returned home to take care of their families, as the average number of returns at the airport jumped five times to around 4,000 per day.
“Remittances are an important and fairly stable source of income for millions of families and of foreign exchange to many developing countries,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group.
“However, if remittances continue to slow, and dramatically as in the case of Central Asian countries, poor families in many parts of the world would face serious challenges including nutrition, access to health care and education,” Lopez-Claros said.
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