Sunday, 29 July 2007

TUCP urges OFWs to save in peso, not dollars

Appreciation of the Philippine peso: a boon or bane

Manuel Orozco, an international expert on remittances wrote to me the following:

"..the appreciation of the peso and many countries' currencies is not directly caused by remittances, but rather by an increasing process of dollarization without short term adjustment of the local economy to those changes. In other words, many countries like Philippines are integrating in the global economy through labor intensive activities [non-trad exports, migration, maquila, and tourism] all of which generate dollars but where living standards are low partly because remuneration is low paid (because of its labor intensive nature and poor labor standards). In addition, the US economy has kept the dollar devaluating in order to compete against Europe and China (China keeps its currency without appreciating, to continue to sells cheaply, and Europe sells relatively expensive things vis a vis the US). In lowering the dollar countries are loosing: most developing countries keep their foreign currency reserves in dollars. Thus the problem is not that remittances are appreciating the home country's local currency and making things more expensive.

For example, Filipino dependence on foreign earnings is huge: 70% of its GDP comes from aid, exports, FDI, tourism and remittances alone. Remittances are only 20% of these foreign earnings. Thus when the discussion is focused on local currency appreciation the main question should not be about migrants and their earnings but about exporters: 70% of all earnings are exports and despite the fact that they are gaining space as global exporters, their workers continue to earn low wages. They could raise wages and thus cope with the currency appreciation. Migrants can not be inflating the economy, they are not the main foreign earning factor.

"Unfortunately, people have to move for better jobs and in doing so have to earn foreign currency working in low paid positions. But their positions are part of a strategy in the global economy to use low paid laborers in order to expand the competitiveness of the host country. But the host country not only uses low paid labor but also lets the currency devaluate to increase its exports. Currency devaluation and low paid jobs are forms of revenue raising, but the poor is the one affected, and that includes migrants. That's why we are dealing with a much complex problem and not just about migrants and migradolalrs. The problem is that we turn to blame the poor when the rich can't find answers to their own created problems."

So what should OFWs do? TUCP has a reply:

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is advising overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families here to hoard their savings in pesos and avoid the US dollar, saying the local currency is bound to gain more strength against the greenback in the months ahead.

"We are just looking out for OFWs and their families here. There is definitely less risk and greater potential reward in peso investments going forward," TUCP president Democrito Mendoza said in a statement.
"OFWs and their families here stand to lose more value for their money if they continue to stash whatever savings they have in dollars, or in dollar-denominated instruments," Mendoza warned. [Read more]

Slow remittances from US migrants hit Latin America

By Robin Emmott

MONTERREY, Mexico, July 12 (Reuters) - Stricter U.S. border controls and a housing slump are cooling the once red-hot growth in remittances migrant workers send to Latin America, challenging economies to cut their dependence on the money flows.

Cash sent home by Mexicans living abroad fell 5.5 percent in May, the first fall since 1999, and countries across Latin America forecast that the growth of remittance flows will slow substantially this year.

"Remittances will definitely suffer a slowdown. We cannot depend only on remittances. We must increase our productive base, especially our exports," Honduras' central bank president, Gabriela Nunez, told Reuters this week.
[Read more]

Remittance Goes Wireless

By Philip A. Castro and Eugene O. Azucena Published in the June 2007 issue of Enterprise July 25, 2007
Eva Gracia, a 33-year-old Filipino nurse working for a tertiary hospital in London, UK, sends, on average, £550 per month to her mother, who looks after her 12-year-old daughter in the province of Kabacan, south of the Philippines. Unlike the more common method of remitting through financial institutions, however, “I send money through my mobile phone,” Gracia says.

In her case, what Gracia does is go to a SMART Padala remittance partner in London, where she then fills out an information sheet about her beneficiary in the Philippines, specifically stating the beneficiary’s SMART mobile phone or SMART Money (one of the telecommunication giant’s features) number. Within minutes, the center transfers the money to another center in Kabacan, with Gracia’s mother receiving an SMS (short messaging system, more popularly known as text messages) that indicates a 16-digit Smart Money number. She then encashes the money through the SMART Padala center, though beneficiaries can actually opt to receive a Smart Money card, which can then be used to withdraw cash in all MasterCard electronic outlets in 214 countries, as well as in Banco de Oro branches, or any automatic teller machines (ATMs) of Expressnet and Megalink. [Read more]

World: International Community Said Successful Against Terror Financing

LONDON, July 28, 2007 (RFE/RL) – Experts at a London conference say the international community is slowly winning the war against terrorist financing, despite the fact that funds can be moved around the world so easily in today’s globalized financial system.

Terrorists need money. They need money to acquire weapons and carry out attacks, to proselytize and to train recruits, to pay for accommodation, and to travel.

Stopping The Flow

They cannot operate without financing, and they have devised many ways to get the money they need and move it around between countries and continents.

Stopping the flow of money presents many obstacles. Experts say most of the funds used by terrorists are legally acquired. Terrorist cells are hard to penetrate, there are fewer large donors these days and small donors are difficult to track.
This prompts the question of whether the international community is actually succeeding in fighting against terrorist financing. But the answer seems to be a qualified "yes."

Peter Romaniuk is an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Romaniuk and others were the speakers at an international conference on fighting terrorism financing in London’s Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies this week. [Read more]

Friday, 27 July 2007

Remittances' benefits come at a price


MORELIA, Mexico -- For recent law school graduate Gabriel Medina, dollars from his sister in South Florida have been his lifeline to a better future.

Each month, Elisa Medina sends her brother an average of $300, part of her earnings from a Homestead plant nursery job where the native of the Mexican state of Michoacán has worked since moving to South Florida in 2001 with her three children.

For Gabriel, the remittances Elisa sends him -- ''more than I earn in my job'' -- and the money he saved during a year spent working in South Florida allowed him to finish law school. [Read more]

Thursday, 26 July 2007

African migrant children 'beaten'

Hundreds of African migrant children in the Canary Islands are at risk of abuse, a human rights group has said.

Children are being beaten and left to go hungry by staff in overcrowded government emergency centres, Human Rights Watch said in a report.
More than 900 unaccompanied children have arrived in the Spanish territory after dangerous journeys in makeshift boats in an attempt to reach the EU.

In 2006, about 30,000 immigrants were caught trying to reach the islands.
The regional government says the accusations are unfounded.
[Read more]

Filipinos Jan-May remittances from Dubai surge 76.48 per cent

BY JOSE FRANCO 17 July 2007
DUBAI — Technological innovations in transferring remittances prompted a 76.48 per cent growth in the amount of money that Filipino workers in Dubai sent to their families back home during the first five months of the year compared to the same period in 2006.

In the latest statistics released yesterday by the Bangko Sentral pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines), or BSP, remittances by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Dubai reached Dh534.44 million from January to May this year compared to some Dh302.84 million for the same period last year. [Read more]

International Forum on Remittances 2007

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are pleased to host the 2007 International Forum on Remittances at the IDB Conference Center in Washington DC, on 18-19 October 2007.

Remittances are part of the centuries-old pattern of migration from rural to urban areas. Nowadays, remittances represent the human face of globalization, in which millions of people migrate in search of a better life and in order to provide for their loved ones back home. One person out of every ten in the world is personally affected by the approximately US$350 billion in remittances that are sent every year by migrants to families back home. These flows of human and financial capital have profound implications for the economies and societies of the sending and the receiving countries. [Read more]

The case for opening Europe’s borders wide to migrant workers

by Philippe Legrain

Efforts to tighten immigration controls and even bring them into line across Europe are short-sighted and unworkable, argues Philippe Legrain. He explains why the EU's growing hunger for even unskilled labour means they are also economically flawed

It's time Europe's politicians came clear about immigration with voters and with themselves. Governments cannot stop people moving across borders, and even if Europe became a police state its borders would still be permeable. Over a million foreigners illegally swell Europe's population every year; some enter covertly but most just overstay their visas and then work illicitly. Draconian policies can make migration harder and curb it somewhat, but mostly they drive it underground and thus create huge problems elsewhere.

Far from protecting society from the perceived threat of immigration, Europe's border controls actually undermine law and order, just as Prohibition did more damage to America than drinking ever has. Surely, then, European governments would do better to legalise and regulate migration instead? [Read more]

Sending money back to Bangladesh

BBy Lara Wozniak 26 July 2007 Citi and BRAC pair up to offer a remittance programme in Bangladesh.

Citi Bangladesh has signed a remittance distribution agreement with BRAC, the world’s largest national non-governmental organisation, which has over five million borrowers. Citi is billing this as one of the first such arrangements involving a micro-finance institution in the world.Under the agreement, BRAC will work with Citi to help facilitate transfer of workers' remittances that come through Citi from all over the world.

BRAC’s micro-finance programme covers all 64 districts of Bangladesh with its 182,497 village organisations, and 3,090 branches. And so, to meet the needs of far-flung people, BRAC deploys more than 20,000 (of its 100,000 employees) to concentrate just on micro-finance.[Read more]

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Brain drain hits Uganda

Monday, 23rd July, 2007

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Print article
By Reuben Olita in Nairobi UGANDA is among African countries most hit by ‘brain drain’, the emigration of skilled workers to rich countries. In 2000, one in five Ugandans who finished tertiary education, or 21.6%, left for greener pastures, according to the just released report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Brain-drain went down compared to 1990, when almost one in three Ugandan professionals left the country. Nevertheless, it is still higher than in other countries of the East-Africa Community. Rwanda and Burundi lost 19% of their skilled people in 2000, while Tanzania saw 15.8% of its intellectuals move abroad. Overall, brain drain from the least developed countries went up from 16.5% of tertiary educated people in 1990 to 21.4% in 2000. Gambia tops the list in Africa: 64.7% of its educated people left in 2000, followed by Somalia (58.6%), Eritrea (45.8%), Mozambique (42%) and Sierra Leone (41%). [Read more]

Wells Fargo Launches Mobile Banking - Newest Way for Customers to Bank Anytime, Anywhere

San Francisco — July 24, 2007
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) announced the launch today of Wells Fargo MobileSM , a browser-based mobile banking solution, available to all of its customers nationwide. With this new service, Wells Fargo allows its customers to access their Wells Fargo financial relationship through a web browser on their mobile device.

"With Wells Fargo Mobile service, customers can act immediately no matter where they are, whether they want to make sure they have enough money in their account or make a transfer between accounts," said Jim Smith, executive vice president and managing head of Wells Fargo's Internet Services Group.

"Our mobile banking solution was inspired by our customers. They helped us design this experience by participating in our pilot programs and providing valuable feedback," Smith added. "Customers' financial needs are time-sensitive and complex, and we considered this when we built our solution for mobile devices."

Once enrolled in Wells Fargo Mobile service, customers can do the following on any Web-enabled mobile device by accessing the mobile banking URL

check balances of their accounts including, checking and savings accounts, mortgage, home equity, brokerage, auto loan, student loan, and credit card accounts;
view transaction history;
transfer money between eligible Wells Fargo accounts
Wells Fargo's new mobile banking service has a number of practical uses:
Shoppers can check their account balance in the checkout aisle. Consumers can shop stress-free knowing they have enough in their accounts.
Travelers can check their account balance on-the-spot, rather than waiting to log in to online banking from their hotel rooms. People can stay current on their account activity while on-the-go.

College students, who have grown up relying on their mobile phones, can conveniently monitor how much money they have in their accounts. This option can ease some of the anxiety of being away from home while managing their money for the first time. [Read more]

Pakistan : Highest ever workers’ remittance received last fiscal!

Pakistan received the highest ever amount of over $5.493 billion as workers’ remittances during the last fiscal year. Never before in the history of Pakistan, the country received more than $4.6 billion as workers’ remittances.In the recently concluded fiscal year 2006-07, Pakistan received an amount of $5,493.65 million as against $4,600.12 million in the preceding fiscal year 2005-06, showing an increase of US$893.53 million or 19.42 percent.The amount of $5,493.65 million includes $2.68 million received through encashment and profit earned on Foreign Exchange Bearer Certificates (FEBCs) and Foreign Currency Bearer Certificates (FCBCs).

During last month (June 2007), Pakistani workers remitted an amount of $505.55 million, up $41.68 million or 9% when compared with an amount of $463.87 million sent home in June 2006. [Read more]

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Bangladesh: Remittance flow to go up if NRBs offered more benefits

FHM Humayan Kabir
The country can attract more remittances from the expatriate Bangladeshis if their hard-earned money is utilised for their benefit as well as that of the national economy, experts say.
Although the earnings from the Bangladesh immigrants account for nearly 7.0 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), the economic return they get is minimal, they said.
Research Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Mustafizur Rahman, told the FE that the government should offer more economic benefits to the country's one of major foreign exchange suppliers - the non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs).
"The annual remittance flow can be more than $6.0 billion, if the government offers some more facilities like those offered to the local exporters," he opined.

According to sources, about 4.0 million Bangladeshi expatriates working in different countries remitted about $6.0 billion in last fiscal 2006-07 while total export earnings from different sectors was $10.9 billion during June-May period of the last fiscal.
The major portion of the export earnings came from the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. In the first 11 months of the last fiscal FY2007, the RMG exporters earned $8.249 billion.[Read more]

IRemit sets sights on IPO this year

Last updated 00:19am (Mla time) 07/23/2007

REMITTANCE company iREMIT has said it is considering an initial public offering (IPO) toward the last quarter of this year.

It has named investment house First Metro Investment Corp. as financial adviser, issue manager and underwriter for the IPO.

The company did not provide details of the planned IPO.

The company's board has approved an increase in the company's capital to P500 million from P163 million to finance its ongoing expansion. Proceeds of the IPO will be used to open new branches and expand to new markets as well as to finance its working capital requirements to meet the increasing volume of remittances.
[Read more]

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Poland: RIA expands its network in Poland by signing up with Bank Pocztowy

RIA's network significantly expanda in Poland by adding Bank Pocztowy's 8,000 payout locations

RIA Envia (RIA), the third-largest global money transfer company and a subsidiary of Euronet Worldwide today announced that RIA has expanded its payout network in Poland by signing a correspondent agent agreement with Bank Pocztowy (Post Bank).

The agreement expands RIA's payout network significantly in Poland with the addition of Post Bank's nearly 8,000 payout locations. Bank Pocztowy, the fast-developing bank in Poland, will soon offer consumers the option to receive RIA money transfers from any of its nearly 8,000 payout locations across the country.

These locations are a combination of bank branches and post offices. The expansion of RIA's network will enable more beneficiaries to conveniently access a fast and reliable money transfer service in Poland. Furthermore, the agreement with Bank Pocztowy (BP)enables RIA customers to send money transfers directly to any bank account or beneficiaries can opt for cash pick-up at any of BP payout locations. BP will begin distributing money transfers for RIA by August of 2007. [Read more]

Mr. Anil Kapur, Managing Director, Western Union

Western Union Money Transfer is a leader in worldwide money transfer services. The service allows customers and businesses to send or receive funds at more than 300,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. In some countries, such as India, customers may only receive money. There are close to 40,000 Western Union agent locations in India across more than 4000 towns, cities and villages. Western Union has five offices in India – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkatta and Chandigarh.

Mr. Anil Kapur is currently responsible for managing and developing the Western Union business in South Asia constituting India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives & Bhutan. Mr. Kapur has been with Western Union over six years now and assumed responsibility for the India business in December 2001. In October 2002, he assumed responsibility for the entire South Asia business. Prior to his stint in India, Mr. Kapur was responsible for developing the business for Western Union in the Gulf countries.
peaking with Hemant Maradia of India Infoline, Anil Kapur says, "We would like a consumer to come out of his/her house and find a Western Union establishment there. [Read more]

Caribbean: COMMENTARY: Brain Drain or Export Earnings?

By Sir Ronald SandersSpecial to Huntington News Network

The United States has become the principal beneficiary of the migration from Caribbean countries of its best educated people. But the US is not the only developed country that has benefited from the Caribbean’s investment in the education of its people: Canada, Holland and the United Kingdom are also beneficiaries. The figures for migration of secondary and tertiary educated people are high for every Caribbean country. The most recent study shows that Suriname led the field for migration of tertiary educated people at 89.9% followed by Guyana at 85.9%, Jamaica at 82.5%, Haiti at 81.6%, St Kitts-Nevis at 71.6% and Antigua and Barbuda at 70%.

Of the Commonwealth Caribbean countries, only the Bahamas and St Lucia were below 40%. By the same token, many Caribbean countries profit from large remittances sent back to the region by its people who live abroad. In fact, in relation to its Gross National Product (GNP), the Caribbean area is the largest recipient in the world of remittances. The largest single source of such remittances is the United States. [Read more]

Philippines: BSP warns rapid rise of peso risks volatility

By Maricel E. Burgonio, Reporter
THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) warned that the peso’s rapid appreciation risks financial volatility, as the local currency closed the week at its strongest in seven years buoyed by continued dollar inflows to the Philippine stock market.
At the Philippine Dealing System, the local unit closed at 44.80 against the dollar on Friday from the closing price of 45 the day before.
The peso opened at 44.999 and rose to its closing price. Trading volume amounted to $517 million.
“The peso is buoyed by equity-related inflows and is moving up against the US dollar like the other regional currencies,” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., said, referring to increased foreign interest in the local stock market as a number of Philippine companies are selling shares to the public for the first time. These include Aboitiz Power Corp. and GMA Network. [Read more]

Friday, 20 July 2007

PAKISTAN: Remittances not rising fast enough

In fiscal year 2006, Bangladesh’s workers’ remittances at $4.8 billion were higher than Pakistan’s $4.6 billion. The trend continued in fiscal year 2007 as well. Whereas overseas Bangladeshis sent $6 billion back home, emigrant Pakistanis repatriated an estimated $5.5 billion. (In eleven months of FY07 Pakistan received $4.99 billion remittances).

Since 9/11, Pakistan’s home remittances have been on the rise and from FY02 to FY07, the country has received roughly $24.8 billion or more than $4.1 billion per year..As the impact of 9/11 on home remittances of Pakistan is more direct than in case of Bangladesh, the growth in BD’s remittances has more to do with its policies and efficient banking system.It indicates that Islamabad has not been doing enough to grab its due share of workers’ remittances in the international market.

Based on the end-2006 data, Pakistan was receiving an average of 1.5 per cent share in all countries’ home remittances of $276 billion and two per cent in $206 billion flowing towards developing countries. Table below lists the top 10 recipients. [Read more]

Diaspora role ‘critical’ to development

he growing strategic role of diaspora communities in global development was the headline theme when representatives of 15 UK-based diaspora organisations met to explore their understandings of ‘development’ and ask how they can do more to boost development work in their countries of origin.

The workshops in April and May were organised by Connections for Development (CfD), a network of black and minority ethnic individuals and organisations working to ensure that diaspora civil society plays a full role in international development, and supported by VSO.

“The diaspora’s role is critical,” argues Alache Ode, VSO’s diaspora development worker, a lecturer on development at University of London’s Birkbeck College, and one of the facilitators of CfD’s workshops. “And it would be even greater if the diaspora themselves grasped its significance.”

Much current interest has centred on remittances – the money sent home by migrant workers. In some countries, this is a larger sum than that received in official development assistance. In Bangladesh, for example, workers’ remittances in 2005 were estimated at $2.2 billion, almost double the $1.4 billion in international aid in the same year. In Kenya, migrant workers remitted some $464 million in 2004 – not far below the level of international aid ($635 million) received in the same year. [Read more]

Western Union and Eurogiro Extend Cooperative Agreement

ENGLEWOOD, CO, July 16 /CNW/ - The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a
global leader in money transfer services, and Eurogiro, a provider of
electronic payment network solutions, today announced that they have extended
their alliance for a multi-year term.
Eurogiro was created to give participating European post offices and post
banks a means of facilitating cross-border payments. The organization now
spans 51 countries around the world. Eurogiro's goal is to enhance customer
service, reduce production costs and increase business within member
In 1998, Eurogiro and Western Union joined forces to provide Western
Union services at selected Eurogiro members. Today, more than 25 Eurogiro
members, including banks, post offices and postal banks offer Western Union
Money Transfer services through more than 40,000 locations in more than 20
"Our relationship with Eurogiro is strategically very important for
Western Union," said Hikmet Ersek, Executive Vice President, Europe, Middle
East, Africa and South Asia, Western Union. "Western Union strives to
associate with the most trusted service providers throughout the world.
Eurogiro members offer a network of convenient, familiar and reliable
locations that are already a part of our consumers' daily lives." [Read more]

Wells Fargo Launches Enhanced Remittance Service; Offers Zero Dollar Transaction Fee

Zero dollar transaction fee available to Wells Fargo customers making account-based transactions through September 30, 2007
San Francisco — July 17, 2007
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) said today that Wells Fargo ExpressSendSM customers with qualifying accounts now can have transaction fees discounted or waived and have more choices in how they remit money to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Vietnam, India and the Philippines.
Key features of the new Wells Fargo ExpressSend service are:
Wells Fargo customers can have the remittance transaction fee discounted or even waived if they send money directly from their eligible Wells Fargo checking or savings account. All customers using the account-based service can have zero dollar transaction fees as part of the new service introduction through September 30, 2007.
Customers will have greater flexibility in remittance transfer methods, which enables them to remit funds faster, more conveniently and safer to friends and families overseas. The remittance transfer choices now include: account to account, account to cash, cash to cash, and cash to account.*
Those receiving funds in Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala can now receive their money as soon as the same day it is sent. Recipients in China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines can now receive their money as soon as the next business day.
Customers will also receive increased information when they complete a transaction in a Wells Fargo's banking stores, including details about the remitter, the beneficiary, how and where funds are sent, the fee, how much money the beneficiary will receive, foreign exchange (FX) rate (if applicable) for the transaction and the Foreign Exchange Margin (estimate of the amount of revenue Wells Fargo earns on the foreign currency conversion).
"Most Latin American and Asian countries have significantly large unbanked consumer populations and eliminating the bank account requirement for the receiving country makes it much easier for recipients to get their money," said Daniel Ayala, head of Wells Fargo's Global Remittance Services. "Based on our tests and pilots, account-to-cash will be the preferred choice for our customers. This opens the service for use by a large number of remitters whose friends and family overseas (beneficiaries) do not have bank accounts in their home country. "
[Read more]

Remittances by Pakistani foreign Workers surge to $5.493 billion

(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) Pakistan received the highest-ever amount of over $5.493 billion as foreign remittances from its workers during the fiscal, 2006-07, officials said.Never before in the history of Pakistan did the country receive more than $4.6 billion as workers remittances.Pakistan received an amount of $5,493.65 million as against $4,600.12 million in the preceding fiscal year 2005-06, showing an increase of $893.53 million, or 19.42 per cent. [Source]

Sri Lanka parliament appoints a select committee to look into the problems of the expatriate workers

Thursday, July 19, 2007, 14:23 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
July 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka parliament has agreed to appoint a select committee to look into the grievances of the expatriate workers.
The select committee comprises MPs Vijitha Herath, Jayantha Samaraweera, Sarath Kumara Gunarathna, Jayalath Jayawardhana, Joseph Michael Perera, Achala Suranga Jagoda and Abdul Baiz.
The select committee is mandated to look into the matters such as recruiting agencies, training, service conditions, problems, accidents, distresses etc. and to recommend initiatives that should be taken.
The remittances from the expatriate workers are one of the pillars of the island’s economy. There are around 1.5 million expatriate Lankans working mainly in Middle East. The majority of them are females working as housemaids under sub human conditions. [Source]

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Global debate on migration, development and human rights should return to the UN

Brussels, 10 July 2007: Trade unions and other civil society organizations supporting migrants’ rights have criticized the direction of this week’s meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Brussels as ignoring the rights and interests of migrants, focusing instead on a narrow agenda dealing only with temporary forms of migration and the contribution of migrant workers’ remittances to economic development. Representatives at a preparatory meeting on 9 July objected to the fact that, apart from the chance to present a statement to the Global Forum, civil society is being excluded from the Forum’s main discussions. The agenda for the Forum also ignores many of the most urgent and serious migration issues. [Read more]

India fears its economy might hit a terror bump

Friday, July 13. 2007

News that Indian citizens have been implicated in a major international terrorist incident has raised fears of a backlash against Indians abroad. The main concern is that the move could hurt the economy.THE foiled terrorist attacks in Britain last month have prompted anxiety and soul-searching in India, a country whose economy relies heavily on its citizens’ ability to work overseas.Some of those arrested in connection with the thwarted bombings in London and Glasgow are Muslims from India. This is the first time since 1985, when a bomb downed Air India Flight 182 near the coast of Ireland, that Indian citizens have been implicated in a major international terrorist incident.The revelations have prompted fears that Indian professionals, Muslim or otherwise, will face increasing difficulty finding employment overseas. [Read more]

Moroccan expatriates' remittances, tourism receipts up in 2007 first five months

Rabat, July 5 - Moroccan expatriates' remittances and tourism receipts have posted, up to May 2007, respectively a 15.6% and 8% rise compared to the same period of the previous year, according to figures released by the Office des Changes (Exchange Office).

The same source noted that tourism receipts totaled, by late May, some USD 2.4Bn as against USD 2.2Bn in the same period of 2006. Compared with the average of receipts by late May for the period 2002-2006, i.e. USD 1.54Bn, receipts increased by 55.9%.
According to the Department of Tourism, around 2.26 million tourists visited Morocco in the period in question, that is a 7% rise. [Read more]

Arab expats sent home $ 40b in 2006

Bahrain Tribune - 14 July, 2007

Arab expatriates living outside the Middle East sent home about $ 40 billion in 2006, five per cent more than the year before, a World Bank report said. The remittances also include those made through informal channels. The report said the total remittances of Arab expatriates working in the Gulf region and abroad through formal channels, mostly banks, reached $ 24.7 billion by the end of 2006 as against $ 23.5 billion in 2005. Informal channels average about 50 per cent of the formal remittances with exchange rate fluctuations also affecting the flows periodically.An estimated 11.8 million Arabs live away from home, mostly in the Gulf, European countries, South East Asia and the US. The Middle East emerged as the fifth-largest recipient of remittances while Latin America topped the list with $ 53.4 billion followed by Asia and the Pacific region with $ 45.3 billion and South Asia with $ 35.7 billion, the report said. [Read more]

Bahrain: Expatriate remittances reach BD500m a year

2 July 2007MP against taxing money transfers
Foreign workers in Bahrain remit around BD400 to BD500 million every year, according to a report by International economists."The figures could be more than BD500 million considering that more expatriates are coming to work in the Kingdom," said MP Jassim Hussein from Al Wefaq bloc. "There is no restriction on the remittances sent by the expatriates."The Deputy said that according to the figures of the Western Union Money Transfer, 24 per cent of the world's remittances is from the Gulf which is about $59 billion for 2005."The total amount of remittances by the Western Union transfer was about $249 billion. The findings of the report stated that seven per cent of the world remittances were from Saudi Arabia which stood in second position after the United States. The figures for Bahrain were not available but economists say that it is about BD500 million." [Read more]

Updating Foreign Aid

By CAROL ADELMANJuly 11, 2007

As the newest president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, is settling into the first month of his five-year term, his greatest challenge will be figuring out how to best give foreign aid since the world we are in now is much different than when the World Bank was founded in 1945. Even as rock stars and G8 leaders call for increasing government aid as key to helping Africa prosper, it continues to decline in importance for developing countries. Private capital flows and private philanthropy — including remittances from immigrants sent back to the developing world — dwarf government assistance. Today, foreign aid constitutes less than 25% of all financial flows from developed countries to poor nations.
In 2005, the latest available data, Americans gave $95 billion to the developing world through foundations, corporations, private and voluntary organizations, universities, religious institutions, and remittances. This is nearly three-and-a-half times American official aid of $28 billion. American companies invest and lend another $69 billion in private capital. Official aid constitutes just 14% of America's total economic flows to developing countries. Traditional foreign aid is outdated, delivering assistance primarily through host governments via expensive consultants. The conventional assumption that foreign aid counts only when it comes from governments is caught in the time warp of Marshall Plan-era thinking when both private investments and charity abroad were minimal. [Read more]

GHANA: Diasporan Investors Team Up to Buy GT

A Ghanaian Diaspora professional group, called the Ghana Leadership Union (GLU) has announced plans to pool resources to buy a controlling stake in one of the country's biggest assets, Ghana Telecom.GLU, a non-partisan NGO with membership based in the U.S.A, U.K., the E.U., Australia and Asia, says Ghanaian professionals based aboard have been shut out of the process of participating in the investment and management of divested State Owned Enterprises for too long; hence the decision to join the race for GT. [Read More]

Related article: Ghana Leadership Union (GLU)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

BDO-EPCI's New Combined Network Provides Extensive MoneyGram Money Transfer Service Throughout the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines, July 16 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- The recent merger of Banco de Oro (BDO) and Equitable PCI (EPCI) gives Filipinos a combined BDO- EPCI network of more than 800 locations across the Philippines to claim MoneyGram transactions. For added convenience, BDO-EPCI offers extended banking hours and weekend banking so Filipinos may collect their remittances on Saturday, Sunday and even on selected holidays.
In addition to the bank branches, BDO-EPCI offers MoneyGram service at 16 BDO onsite outlets and at 30 SM Forex counters inside SM Department Stores.
MoneyGram International
MoneyGram International, Inc. is a leading global payment services company with 114,000 global money transfer locations in 170 countries and territories. For more information, visit the company's website at .


Sunday, 15 July 2007

Philippines: Peso seen to range between 44-46 to $1 in second half

By Ted P. Torres Sunday, July 15, 2007

The peso is expected to hover at the 44 to 46 range against the dollar for the rest of the year due to a rise in US and Philippine interest rates in the second semester, a top executive of a leading foreign bank said.
Jose Arnulfo Veloso, treasurer and head of global markets of HSBC Philippines, said the surprise increase in US Fed funds rate and a possible shortfall in the Philippine government’s revenue collections in 2007 may cause some weakness in the peso.
He said the peso will occasionally test the 42 to 43 levels but will eventually return to the 45 level. “The 45 to the dollar is also called the equilibrium level,” he added. [Read more]

OFW remittances surge 21.9% to $5.9B in 5 mos

By Des Ferriols Sunday, July 15, 2007
Page: 1 -->

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remitted 21.9 percent more in the first five months this year compared to last year, resulting in a total $5.9 billion sent through the banking system during the period.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported that remittances in May alone were strong at $1.2 billion, the 13th straight month that remittances went over a billion dollars.
The BSP noted a marked deceleration in May, however, when remittances grew by only 8.4 percent year-on-year, compared with the double-digit growth recorded in May 2006.
The BSP said the slowdown in growth during the month was partly attributed to the “base effect” following a sharp increase in remittances in May 2006.
However, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said there was also a steady decline in deployment of new workers abroad and despite the trend of higher salaries for higher-skilled workers, this was beginning to affect total remittances. [Read more]

Friday, 13 July 2007

PHILIPPINES: 5-month OFW remittances up 22%

Thomson FinancialLast updated 03:26am (Mla time) 07/14/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Foreign exchange remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) totalled $5.9 billion in the January-May period, up 21.9 percent from the same months last year, the central bank said Friday.
In May, the remittances rose 8.4 percent year-on-year to $1.2 billion, slackening after high growth in previous months. In April, the growth rate reached 32.6 percent.
Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. of the central bank said that the slowdown was attributable mainly to a high comparative base in May last year.
"The robust growth of remittances year-to-date was due largely to technological innovations introduced by financial institutions that serve as conduits for remittance transfers," he said. – With


South Africa: Promise of a New Age of Mobility

Business Day (Johannesburg)
OPINION12 July 2007
Posted to the web 12 July 2007

Ban Ki-MoonJohannesburg

IT IS common knowledge that we live in a globalised world. Less well understood is the fact that globalisation is taking place in stages.
We are in the second: the age of mobility. In its first stage, as flows of capital and goods were liberated, the benefits of globalisation flowed primarily to the developed world and its principal trading partners. As we enter the newer age of mobility, people will move across borders in ever-greater numbers. In their pursuit of a better life, they have the potential to chip away at the vast inequalities that characterise our time - and accelerate progress throughout the developing world.

To take just one example, migrants sent home $264bn last year, triple all international aid combined. In some countries, a third of families rely on these remittances to keep them out of poverty. Across the developing world, remittances underwrite health care, education and grassroots entrepreneurship.

The freer movement of people helps oil the global economy. When a hospital in London needs nurses, it recruits them from Ghana or Sierra Leone. When Google seeks programmers, developing nations are often the source. Until now, this flow of people has mostly benefited richer countries and generated worries about brain drains in poorer ones. But our knowledge is growing about how to make the migration equation work for everyone. [Read more]

Africa: Migration Crucial to Success of Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies

International Organization for Migration (Geneva)
PRESS RELEASE6 July 2007Posted to the web 6 July 2007

As governments gather for the first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for migration to be systematically mainstreamed into poverty reduction strategies and for better support to be given to diasporas wanting to contribute to the development of their home countries.
If real progress is to be made on making migration work for development, this and the need to reinforce the capacity of States to map labor market trends and gaps, preparing the way for safe and planned labor migration, would have to be addressed.

IOM sees the Global Forum to be held in Brussels on 9-12 July as an important way to identify good practices and concrete, practical ways forward, following on from the High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development held at the UN General Assembly in September 2006. [Read more]

ECUADOR-SPAIN: Cash from Ecuadorians in Spain to spur business

10 July 2007
MADRID - The Ecuadorian government backed a plan to convert remittances sent home by its citizens living in Spain into "a springboard for (Ecuador's) development".
Spain and Ecuador signed a cooperation agreement that will make possible the creation of micro-businesses and other projects.
Ecuadorian Emigration Minister William Murillo went to his country's Embassy in Spain to sign the accord with the UCMTA union with an eye toward better taking advantage of the remittances sent by Ecuadorians to their relatives back home. Murillo is in this capital as part of the political and business mission of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who is due in Spain this week.

"We need the remittances not to be a source of money for consumption, but rather to be a springboard for the country's development," Murillo told Efe. [Read more]

Overseas remittances not an unmixed blessing

Sri Lanka gets over $2 billion in the form of remittances from its citizens working overseas, mostly as unskilled and semi-skilled labour. The 1.5 million men and women, working mainly in the Middle East, are the second highest contributors to the country's foreign exchange kitty, after the garment exporters.

Workers' remittances help cushion Sri Lanka's huge trade deficit of $3.4 billion, points out Dr Sirimal Abeyratne of the University of Colombo.
"Without this money, the country will be in dire straits. The remittances help hold the value of the dollar from sliding perilously," economist Dr Harsha de Silva of the think tank LIRNE-Asia told Hindustan Times.
[Read more]

Call for New Regulatory Framework to Allow Greater Access to Financial Services Via Mobile Phones in Developing Countries

4 July 2007, 01:01am ET
ESPOO, Finland, July 4, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ --
A new regulatory framework is needed to encourage financial transactions by mobile phones and transform access to financial services in developing countries, claims a new policy report 'The Transformational Potential of M-Transactions', published today (4 July 2007) by Vodafone in partnership with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Nokia Siemens Network.
The report, Vodafone's sixth policy paper, of which three focus on the social impact of mobile phones, details new, independent research by leading economists from Frontier Economics and Groupe d'Economie Mondiale as well as consultants to the World Bank. [Read more]

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Mobile Payments: The Tipping Point

compendium of 56 Mobile Payments press releases over the last six months( a ton of reading if you click on the links ) reveals that notwithstanding the mobile payments debates and dialogue centered in the carrier centric mobile industry, the real action is already occurring with trials in the financial services and retail segments, plus through government central bankers around the world. These are the concrete emerging COIs (centers of influence) for this developing market. The operators are just going to go along for the ride....
[Read more]

155 UN Member States Mark Close of Inaugural Global Forum on Migration and Development: Landmark Event Ends With Commitments for Action

BRUSSELS, JULY 11 : The inaugural meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development closed on a high note Wednesday, with participating states announcing new initiatives and partnerships. The Forum, which attracted 155 UN Member States and over 800 participants, opened yesterday in the presence of Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"You converted this meeting into a landmark in the migration and development debate, with frank and interesting exchanges of experiences and many concrete suggestions for further action," declared the chair of this inaugural Global Forum, Ambassador Regine De Clercq of Belgium "In fact, we moved development to center stage in the migration debate. This new approach opens more space for both development and migration policy objectives to be reached."

Peter Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative for Migration, emphasized the unique character of the event in his closing remarks: "The Forum is a place where policymakers can learn the state-of-the-art in migration and development, and build relationships of trust amongst each other that lead to practical partnerships."

Forum discussions helped shift the paradigm of the migration and development debate. "We now understand better how migration policies can contribute to development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and we all recognize migration as an opportunity, not a threat," said the Forum chair.

Several countries announced the launch of projects based on discussions at the Forum, including ones that involve measuring and analyzing the development impacts of migration and reducing its costs.

Many states announced their intention to, among other initiatives, issue diaspora bonds; securitize remittance flows; develop automatic clearing house systems to reduce the cost of remittances and facilitate more flows through formal, banking channel; launch partnership projects to address brain drain by setting up a training facilities for doctors and nurses; implement measures to improve the financial literacy of the migrants in the host countries and their families back home, so that migrants can make informed financial decisions; and the develop systems to provide pre-departure training and information to migrants about the benefits and also risks associated with migration.

The government of the Philippines, which will host the second Global Forum in 2008, also announced its preliminary plans.

Among the key issues discussed by states were:

* Governments agreed that migration should not become an alternative to national development strategies in the developing countries. Nor should it become a substitute for commitments to development by the donor countries.

* The scope that exists for looking at the development challenges of regions with high out-migration pressures, to ensure that people are not driven to migrate out of necessity and despair.

* The need for capacity building, including for data collection on migration flows and development impact analyses; for the identification of diaspora partners; and for training officials to better implement migration and development policies.

* The fact that many countries - in particular countries of origin, but also in many destination countries in the North as well as the South - simply do not have the knowledge or the tools to address migration and development issues. Such tools have to be crafted. The Forum discussed good practices with respect to regulation as well as facilitation of remittances, recruitment, use of new technologies, transparency in financial and labor markets, protection of migrants, retention and return of skills, and circular migration.

* How migrants and their families can play a role as actors of development.

* Respect for human rights and gender equality should be mainstreamed throughout the migration and development debate.

In her closing address, Ambassador De Clercq noted: "It is fair to say that our meeting of the last 3 days heralds a new common vision on migration and development, based on cooperation and partnership, rather than on confrontation."

The two intergovernmental days of the Forum were preceded by the Civil Society Day on 9 July, organized by the King Baudouin Foundation. More than 200 civil society representatives gathered to offer organized input to the governmental discussions.

The agenda of Civil Society Day largely mirrored the governmental agenda. Recommendations were presented to governments in the first plenary session of the inter-governmental discussions, including:

- Governments should ratify and effectively implement as well as monitor compliance of the UN and ILO standards of protection for migrant workers and their families; they should legislate national laws and policies to promote and fulfill the rights of migrant workers and members of their families, particularly the women and children.
- Migration policies regarding highly skilled workers should be properly linked to development policies to ensure that conditions exist that provide the opportunity to retain them ;
- Policies on remittance transfer mechanisms should aim to improve access, lower costs and increase of choices available to remittance senders.

Press release of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

The early morning phonecall: remittances from a refugee diaspora perspective

By Anna Lindley
Remittances are an important strand in the relationship between migration and social change in migrants' countries of origin and there is increasing interest in the role of remittances in conflict and post-conflict countries. Yet little is known about remittances from the diaspora perspective, and much less about refugees remitting. This paper makes three contributions, based on analysis of survey and ethnographic evidence on the remittance experiences of Somali refugees in London . First, it argues that the diaspora perspective is critical element in understanding remittance processes, and that remitting can have substantial social and economic repercussions for migrants. Second, it argues that just as migrants are not ‘just labour', remittances are not ‘just money', pointing to the importance of analysing the social texture of the remittance process. Third, it argues that the nature of forced migration may shape remitting in various ways which merit further exploration.
Key words: Remittances, refugees, forced migration, diaspora, UK , Somalia

Click here to download the full working paper (.pdf)

If you do not have Adobe® Acrobat® Reader, which is required to read this document, you can download it free from the Adobe Website

Friday, 6 July 2007

July 9, 2007: Global Forum on Migration and Development

On 9, 10 and 11 July 2007 the first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development will take place in Brussels. The governmental discussions on 10 and 11 July will be preceded by a meeting of civil society representatives on 9 July. This will mark the start of a new global process designed to enhance the positive impact of migration on development (and vice versa) by adopting a more consistent policy approach, identifying new instruments and best practices, exchanging know-how and experience about innovative tactics and methods and, finally, establishing cooperative links between the various actors involved. [Read more]

Can migrant remittances help rebuild conflict-affected states?

An important component of peace-building is maintenance of livelihoods during conflict and to ensure sustainable post-conflict recovery. The role of private individual support to war-torn communities is little researched and poorly understood by those who plan peace-building programmes and post-conflict assistance strategies.
A paper produced by the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University in the US and International Peace Academy focuses on what is known about how migrant diasporas and their networks bring remittance funds, communications technologies and other forms of support to individuals, families and communities in politically and economically troubled environments. The study aims to explore the fields from which useful knowledge can be found. These include migrant remittance patterns, diaspora communities and their global links, peace building and post-conflict recovery, and studies of migrant support for conflict. [Read more]

BANGLADESH: Remittances To Bangladesh Reach $6 Billion

July 4, 2007 12:12 p.m. EST
Siddique Islam - AHN South Asia Correspondent
Dhaka, Bangladesh (AHN) - Remittances sent by Bangladeshis working abroad reached nearly $6 billion, a record in the country's history, in fiscal 2006-07 that ended June 30, officials said in the capital, Dhaka on Wednesday.

"We expected that the remittances would cross $6 billion mark, but it slightly dropped in June last due mainly to less working days and bank holiday," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country's central bank, told AHN in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The amount is 24.52 percent higher than that of the previous fiscal, they added. [Read more]