Tuesday, 6 December 2011

POVERTY: Remittances to developing countries rebound

JOHANNESBURG, 6 December 2011 (IRIN)

 Photo: Maria Font de Matas/IRIN
Remittances to developing countries are expected to continue increasing

A slump in the amount of money migrants sent home during the global financial crisis appears to have ended with officially recorded remittances to the developing world reaching an estimated US$351 billion in 2011, an 8 percent increase from 2010.
"Growth of remittances in 2011 exceeded our earlier expectations in four regions, especially in Europe and central Asia... and sub-Saharan Africa," write lead economists at the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Unit in a brief released on 1 December.
The top recipient countries were India, China, Mexico and the Philippines, but smaller nations such as Tajikistan, Lesotho, Nepal and Lebanon received a greater flow of remittances as a percentage of their gross domestic product (GDP) - Lesotho, for example, relied on remittances for 29 percent of its GDP in 2011.
Money sent home by migrants now represents three times the amount of official development aid to countries receiving assistance and is crucial to alleviating poverty, according to the World Bank.
But the news is not all good. The ongoing debt crisis in Europe and high unemployment in many developed countries "is affecting employment prospects of existing migrants and hardening political attitudes toward new immigration", the World Bank economists note. Saudi Arabia recently introduced an indigenization programme that limits the number of foreign workers companies can hire and the United Kingdom has imposed tougher admission criteria for non-EU migrants.

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