Monday, 31 March 2008

Vietnam: Overseas remittances estimated at US$5 billion

Overseas remittances to Vietnam are expected to increase by US$300 million this year to around US$5 billion, said an official from the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV).

The flow of overseas remittances to Ho Chi Minh City alone is estimated at US$3.6 billion, an increase of US$600 million from 2006, said Nguyen Ngoc Lan, Deputy Director of the SBV’s Foreign Exchange Management Department.

Sacomrex, a foreign remittance service company under the Saigon Thuong Tin Commercial Bank (Sacombank), took the lead in attracting overseas remittances in the last 11 months, with US$840 million. The figure is expected to increase to US$930 million by the end of this year, 40 percent higher than 2006’s figure. Meanwhile, the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) also reported a 50-percent rise.

Apart from traditional markets such as the US, Australia, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan, the Middle East has become an important foreign remittance source due to the increasing number of Vietnamese guest workers there.

The Vietnam Eximbank is planning to co-ordinate with labour export-involved businesses to attract overseas remittances from guest workers. So far this year, Eximbank has fetched US$320 million in overseas remittances, and the figure is expected to increase to US$400 million for the whole year.

Banking experts attributed the increase of the remittance volume to simplified money transfer procedures. In addition, the development of the stock market coupled with opportunities from the real estate market are encourag. Source

Saturday, 29 March 2008

As the Dollar Slides, Two Continents Feel the Side Effects in Divergent Ways

Published: March 27, 2008

HONG KONG — Anthony del Rosario, who works on an oil tanker that travels between the Middle East and South Korea, is sending home less money to his family in the Philippines. Takeshi Okada, a shoe manufacturer in Japan, is concerned about the possibility of declining export sales.

They have a common worry: The sliding value of the dollar is putting them under increasing financial pressure.

The decline in the buying power of the dollar is, according to economic analysts, only a high-profile symptom of the economic slowdown and credit squeeze in the United States. But for many businesses and workers who once regarded themselves as lucky to be paid in dollars or dollar-linked currencies, the weakening dollar is a sure sign of tougher economic times ahead in Asia. [Read more]

Moldova: Sending money home

Workers' remittances to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova - An EBRD study

In 2006, the EBRD’s multi donor fund for the early transition countries (ETC) decided to fund a study that would analyse the flow of remittances to ETCs. The Bank is presenting the study’s findings at a conference in Tbilisi, Georgia on “Workers’ Remittances to ETCs”.

Sibel Beadle, an EBRD Principal Banker, explains some of the study’s findings.

Why have the ETCs become the focus of this study on remittances?

Remittance flows to the early transition countries are a new phenomenon. Little is known about the remittance flows to these countries while remittances in Latin America and Eastern Europe are well-researched. This is why a joint study by the EBRD and the Asian Development Bank looked at six countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova and Tajikistan.

The EBRD surveyed remittance flows to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova, as well as Russia as a remittance sending country. It also analysed the financial sector of the three countries. [Read more]

China: Chinese overseas remittance income ranks 2nd

ccording to the Immigrants and Remittance Overview 2008, delivered by the World Bank on March 19, China's overseas remittance income totaled $25.7 billion: the second largest overseas remittance income received in 2007. It was preceded by India, at $27 billion; and followed by Mexico, at 25 billion dollars.

The overview also shows that total global overseas remittance last year was approximately $318 billion. Approximately $240 billion dollars of the total remittance flows into developing countries.

The report points out that the U.S. is the largest exporter of overseas remittance. It exported an 42.2 billion dollars in overseas remittance in 2006. Saudi Arabia and Switzerland are the second and third largest exporters, exporting 15.6 billion dollars and 13.8 billion dollars respectively.

One author of the overview, Xu Zhimei, declared that overseas remittance is very important for many developing countries. Not only is it helpful in alleviating poverty; but it is also a major source of foreign exchange and fundamental for economic stability in these countries.

By People's Daily Online Source

Philippines: OFW money fails to bridge income gap

MAKATI CITY, Philippines — Extreme reliance on money from Filipinos overseas hasn’t helped the country get out of the poverty rut and may even hobble the poor’s income capability, says an economist.

Using government’s triennial Family Income and Expenditures Survey, University of the Philippines economist Ernesto Pernia said in a research that remittances from overseas Filipino workers may be contributing to the persistence of high inequality in the country.

The 2003 and 2006 datasets of the FIES saw the total Gini coefficient (or the measure of inequality of wealth) showed it hardly changing: 0.4605 Gini coefficient in 2003 to 0.4580 in 2006.

As overseas employment and permanent settlement will continue to persist in the Philippines, Pernia said remittances “could result to a further worsening of income inequality". [Read more]

Ghana: Meeting on sub-region financial integration

Accra, March 29, GNA- A two-day meeting to discuss how to enhance access to banking and financial services in the West African sub-region ended in Accra on Saturday.

The attended by cross-section of experts in the banking sector, insurance and stock markets in the sub-region was to enable participants draw up a coordinated roadmap for increasing the competitiveness of the financial sector. Mr Daniel Mensah, Executive Secretary, Ghana Bankers Association, told journalists that the workshop explored ways of integrating the various financial sectors in the sub-region to foster socio-economic development. [Read more]

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Peso seen rising to 39.10:$1 this year

March 23, 2008
Updated 18:35:31 (Mla time)
Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines--American investment banking giant Lehman Brothers foresees the peso rising to 39.10 to a dollar by year's end before surging to 36.70 in 2009 but warned that remittances from overseas Filipinos could be a "double-edged" sword in this period of US-led global slowdown.

Lehman expects Philippine domestic economic growth to slow down to 5 percent this year given a less favorable global environment but sees the country resuming a robust growth of 7 percent in 2009.

"The rise in overseas worker remittances to $14.4 billion in 2007 buoyed domestic demand, lifting real GDP (gross domestic product) growth to 7.3 percent--a three-decade high," Lehman said in a global economic report dated March 14. "However, with 52 percent of the remittances sourced from the US, a deep recession there could weaken remittance inflows in 2008 and hurt consumption spending."
[Read more]

Friday, 21 March 2008

Multisectoral Impacts of Increasing Remittances Deserve a thorough study

Md. Abdul Jabbar

THE Bangladesh economy has got a major turn for the positive, through strengthening of efforts for inward foreign remittance mobilisation. In this process, there is now a notable shifting of remittance from informal channel to the formal one. This year as much as more than US $ 7.00 billion is expected to be received by the country where it was about US $ 6.50 billion during the last year. Under the joint attempts, both the private and public sector financial institutions are making their efforts and looking for ways to open the easy path for entry of remittance funds to the country.

Such an increasing volume of remittances indicates the potential role of the policy-makers to adopt the required policy options. The remittance-attracting policy options should also include:

i) the study of impact of remittance funds on poverty alleviation, development indicators, social dynamics, and opportunities gained and lost in the recipient countries;

ii) addressing the concerns about increasing migration and its impact upon the families and societies based on scientific propositions;

iii) the "push" of population, unemployment and evaluating crisis pressures in less developing countries like us;

iv) strengthening or weakening of efforts for reducing income inequalities;

v) non-monetary contributions, including knowledge-sharing, investments in human capital, and travel;

vi) a research study for examining the dynamics of informal money transfer operations, particularly the use of the 'hawala' systems which combine low price and efficiency but may serve the needs of illegal operations or terrorists, in addition to the needs of families and communities;

vii) regulatory requirements and their impacts on small businesses; and

viii) migration, return and remittances: selected case studies etc.

New technologies allow remittance service-providers to reduce direct transaction costs and open new channels, thus, enhancing convenience for remitters and improving levels of transparency and accountability for regulators and policy-makers. [Read more]

ICICI Bank to attract remittances from Yorkshire

ICICI Bank UK Plc, a wholly-owned subsidiary of India's largest private sector bank, has opened its ninth British branch in Leeds, a large city in Yorkshire.

Prominent members of the Leeds business community attended Thursday's launch as Councillor Andrew Carter, Leader of Leeds City Council, inaugurated the branch.

"Leeds is known as a hub for several ethnic communities. Its diversity and multi-cultural community will be attracted especially to our money transfer service, which ultimately results in their families getting more money because of the value we provide," said Deepak Varghese, head of retail banking of ICICI Bank UK PLC.
[Read more]

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Bangladesh: NBL plans massive rural expansion

ational Bank Limited (NBL) plans to go for massive expansion in rural areas, eyeing more income from remittance services, NBL officials said yesterday.

“If we get permission to open 10 branches out of 25 we have applied for, we'll open most of the branches in rural areas in 2008,” NBL Managing Director Abdur Rahman Sarkar told reporters at a function marking the bank's 25 years in operations.

Sarkar said: “We opened five branches in rural areas out of 15 branches opened in 2006. In 2007, the bank opened five branches in rural areas out of 10.”

“Our rural expansion will target remittances as most expatriate Bangladeshis send money to their relatives in rural areas,” AKM Shafiqur Rahman, executive vice-president and secretary of the bank, said. [Read more]

India: India top recipient of remittances in 2007: WB

Washington, March 20: India received a whopping USD 27 billion in remittances, beating China and Mexico to become the top country for such inflows, the World Bank has said in its latest report.

The top five recipients of remittances in 2007 were India (USD 27 billion), China (USD 25.7 billion), Mexico (USD 25 billion), the Philippines (USD 17 billion), and France (USD 12.5 billion), according to the report titled `migration and remittances factbook 2008`.

"In many developing countries, remittances provide a life line for the poor. They are often an essential source of foreign exchange and a stabilising force for the economy in turbulent times," said Dilip Ratha, senior economist with the World Bank, and co-author of the report.

The inward remittances to India has more than doubled from around USD 12.89 billion in 2000 to USD 27 billion in 2007. [Read more]

Rising Migrant Remittances Helping the Developing World

Pakistan reported over 20 per cent growth in remittances from overseas Pakistanis during the first 8 months of fiscal 2007-8. The country ranked number 12 in the world with over $4b in this period. High oil prices and strong economies in the oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries are contributing to strong demand for migrant laborers.

According to a report titled “Remittance Trends 2007″ by the World Bank , the flow of remittance globally continues with a robust growth with developing countries taking the lead as major recipients. The growth of remittances to developing countries remains robust because of strong growth in Europe, Middle East and Asia.[Read more]

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Mexico: To stay or not to stay

Saturday, March 15, 2008, 3:00:00 AM

To stay or not to stay

By Stephanie Creech | Daily Times Senior Writer

Maximino Alarcón Suárez left the Ursulo Galvan Colony in Xico, Veracruz, in 2005 bound for the United States.

Suarez and four other people from the village walked for three days and three nights. With the help of a "coyote," a person illegal immigrants pay to help them cross the border, they eventually made it to America. The coyote charged them $1,300 each.

Suárez spent the next two and one-half years washing dishes and doing kitchen prep work in multiple restaurants in Las Vegas, Nev., and saved the $16,000 needed to build a house for his family back in their rural mountain village. [Read more]

India: Rupee rolls up to cheer up remittances

Saturday, Mar 15, 2008

Gulf News

The rupee's depreciation in the past few weeks should bring cheer to the millions of Indian expatriates in the Gulf. The decline is expected to continue in the coming months as turbulent stock markets and a widening trade deficit take their toll.

The rupee has weakened more than two per cent against the dollar so far this year, pressured by equity outflows and a severe shortage of spot dollars in the market. Curbs on foreign borrowing imposed by the government last year and the global credit woes caused by the US subprime crisis have also cut inflows.

After gaining more than 12 per cent in 2007, the rupee has fallen to around 40.5 per dollar, its weakest since mid-September and farther away from a near 10-year high of 39.16 in November. [Read more]

Nepal: Remittance increases by 18 percent

HT Online
Kathmandu, March 14

The flow of remittances rose by 18 per cent in Nepal, during the first half of current fiscal year 2007-08 and touched the total amount to Rs 57 billion as of mid-January 2008. Nepal had received Rs 48.26 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal year.
Similarly, the largest remittance-recipient developing country India's private current transfers grew by 30 per cent in the first half of 2007.
According to a report -Remittance Trends 2007, the flow of remittance globally continues with a robust growth with developing countries taking lead as major recipients. The growth of remittances to developing countries remains robust because of strong growth in Europe and Asia.

The worldwide flows of remittances are expected to reach $318 billion in 2007. Of the total amount, remittances sent home by migrants from developing countries are expected to exceed $240 billion in 2007, up from $221 billion in 2006 and more than double the level reached in 2002.

This amount reflects only officially recorded transfers-the actual amount including unrecorded flows through formal and informal channels is believed to be significantly larger, states the report.
[Read more]

Remittance Slowdown, Wake-Up Call for Latin America

By Marcela Sanchez
Special to
Friday, March 14, 2008; 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Jesus Antonio Soriano had long wanted to give something back to his native Chalatenango, a province in northern El Salvador devastated by civil war in the 1980s. And so four years ago, the agronomist, with three partners, developed a plan to improve land values and create jobs by building a residential and recreational center. The Chalate Country Club now employs 60 people full-time and pays them at least twice what most jobs in the area would bring.

Initially, investment was slow in coming to Soriano's development. Then two years ago, he began offering the $16,500, 400-square-yard lots to Salvadorans living abroad. Almost at the same time, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, President Bush's "smart aid" program, launched its $461 million, five-year initiative in education and basic infrastructure for northern El Salvador.
[Read more]

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean slower, IDB fund says

Migrant workers sent some US$66.5 billion to the region in 2007, MIF estimates

Latin American and Caribbean migrants sent some US$66.5 billion back to their homelands in 2007, about 7 percent more than in the previous year, according to estimates presented today by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).

“This is the first time since we started tracking remittances in the year 2000 that we haven’t seen a double-digit increase,” said MIF Manager Donald F. Terry. “This is mostly because the region’s two top recipients of workers remittances, Mexico and Brazil, departed significantly from past trends.”

Remittances to Mexico were virtually unchanged in 2007, rising barely 1 percent to US$24 billion. Money transfers to Brazil dropped 4 percent to about US$ 7.1 billion last year. [Read more]

Monday, 10 March 2008

Fiji in the top 10 remittance receiver

UVA (Pacnews) Fiji was one of the top 10 remittance recipients in 2007 in the East Asia and Pacific region.

Pacnews reports Fiji is estimated to have received $247million (US$165m) in inward remittances in 2007.

This was the same as the previous year, the report revealed.

However, the report said that the true size of remittances including unrecorded flows through formal and informal channels, is believed to be larger.

The report noted that the acting deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji, Barry Whiteside, had highlighted that remittances to Fiji in 2006 amounted to $313million (US$210m). [Read more]

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Greater Efforts Needed To Ensure Well Being Of Families Left Behind In Migration Process

Published on Mar 8, 2008 - 7:44:41 AM

By: International Organization for Migration

GENEVA March 8, 2008 - Increasing attention on the safe migration of people in the globalized world and greater efforts to promote the rights of migrant workers are not being systematically matched by interventions to ensure the safety and well being of families left behind, the International Organization for Migration says today as it marks International Women's Day.

"Countries of origin are increasingly dependent on the significant remittances being provided by migrants and see their overseas workers as of major value to their economic development. However, for spouses and children left behind, the absence of a parent from the day-to-day running of the family brings social and economic problems of its own. These have all too often been overlooked in migration and development policies," says Ndioro Ndiaye, IOM Deputy Director General.

International remittances to developing countries, amounting to an estimated US$240 billion in 2007, are often the main income of a receiving family and are usually used for day-to-day expenses including school fees and materials. However, the long-term absence of a parent can undermine the very objective that led to the migration in the first place - bettering a family's prospects.
[Read more]

MIGRATION-US: Ailing Building Industry Squeezes Remittances

NEW YORK, Mar 7 (IPS) - Wearing a hat emblazoned with a bald eagle and a U.S. flag, Gerardo waited with some 30 other men in front of a 7-Eleven in Alexandria, Virginia hoping a builder or contractor would come by to offer a job. The Sunday morning cold was a minor inconvenience. Lack of papers and, more recently, lack of work were bigger worries.

Sometimes they wait for days without job offers, said Gerardo, 32, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who asked that his last name not be published.

And while construction work pays best, it is increasingly scarce. "We are now getting more jobs in painting and moving," he said.

The end of the housing boom has signaled a bust in construction jobs, a field in which about 28 percent of workers are foreign-born, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics.
[Read more]

Remittances to Mexico see biggest drop in 13 years

Economy, anti-migrant policies blamed for biggest drop in 13 years

08:41 AM CST on Friday, March 7, 2008

By ALFREDO CORCHADO / The Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY – Remittances to Mexico were down nearly 6 percent in January, the biggest drop in 13 years, which experts attributed to a downturn in the U.S. economy and anti-immigrant policies.

In its report this week, Mexico's central bank, known as the Bank of Mexico, said remittances fell to $1.65 billion in January from $1.76 billion a year earlier, signaling the biggest decline since the bank began recording remittances in 1995. Remittances are the second-biggest source of foreign currency inflows behind oil exports for Mexico, though they comprise just about 3 percent of the country's gross domestic product. [Read more]

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Haiti: Oklahoma Bank Partners with Haitian Microfinance Institution to Fight Poverty

A Fonkoze client signs for her loan at a weekly meeting

(CSRwire) February 28, 2008 - Fonkoze, Haiti's largest micro-finance institution, and Central National Bank of Enid, Oklahoma, have partnered to create a low-cost stored-value card that offers Haitian Diaspora and others in the U.S. both a convenient way to manage their own finances and an inexpensive way to increase income and investment in Haiti through remittances.

The two organizations recently signed an agreement under which CNB will issue a prepaid card for Fonkoze. Interactive Transaction Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNB, will process the cards. Value can be stored on the cards in three ways: through direct payroll deposit, at participating banks, and through other load networks. The cards will have all the features of CNB's current prepaid card portfolio, but will also allow holders to send remittances up to $2,500 per day to Haiti for only $6 and make long distance phone calls at a competitive rate. Alianza International, a prepaid debit card and money transfer enabling company, will provide consumer marketing and remittance delivery support for CNB and Fonkoze. The product will be available on the market March 21, 2008. [Read more]

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Bangladesh Sees Remittances Jump 26 Percent

Siddique Islam - AHN South Asia Correspondent

Dhaka, Bangladesh (AHN) - Bangladesh expatriates sent home a record $4.827 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, marking a 26.23 percent growth over the same period last year. "The upward trend of inward remittances continued in the month of February," a senior official with the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country's central bank, told AHN in Dhaka. [Read more]

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Bangladesh: Families to receive remittance closer to home

Villagers in faraway areas will no longer have to travel long distances to receive the money sent by family members from abroad.

The villagers will soon be able to draw money sent from abroad from the bank branch nearest their home.

Private commercial National Credit and Commerce Bank and NGO Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha are working jointly to introduce a foreign remittance project to provide the new services by April.

Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed inaugurated the project at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, saying the project would help cut the flow of inward remittances through illegal hundi .

"The remittance sent by expatriates play a major role in the economy," the governor said, urging other banks to take similar schemes in conjunction with the NGO sector. NCC Bank's managing director Nurul Amin put the cost of the project at Tk 8 crore.
[Read more]

Deploying Diaspora-Led Investments for Africa's Development

African Development Bank (Tunis)

29 February 2008
Posted to the web 29 February 2008

Representatives of the African Development Bank Group recently participated in a seminar on "Promoting Diaspora-led Investments and Leveraging Remittances as a Source of Financing for Enhanced Growth and Development in Africa" held in Cape Town, South Africa. Organized by the Joint Africa Institute, the 3-day seminar, which ran from February 6-8, 2008, brought together experts in the domain, including the AfDB Executive Director, Peter Sinon; the World Bank's Chief Economist for Africa, John Page; the Multilateral Investment Fund Manager, Donald Terry, and the chief executive officer of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Paul Baloyi.

As the reality of globalization reaches more and more people, the role and impact of the Diaspora and their remittances as well as their potential positive contribution to development is becoming increasingly critical for policy and strategic considerations. The scarcity of development finance is being further hampered by escalating costs of inputs for infrastructure development such as cement, bitumen and fuel, and this makes Diaspora remittances all the more important. [Read more]