KARACHI: Foreign remittances grew around 12 percent to $14.3 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year of 2018/19 with Saudi Arab still the biggest source of inflows from overseas Pakistanis despite labour market troubles, the central bank’s data revealed on Monday.
The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data showed that overseas workers remitted $12.8 billion during the same period in the last fiscal year. Saudi Arab was the major source of remittances amounting to $3.3 billion in the July-February period of FY2019, up 2.4 percent year-on-year.
The Arab country houses nearly half of 10.5 million Pakistani workers registered with the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment. Saudisation scheme continues to catch up speed with the Saudi government encouraging employment of locals. This, couple with lower oil price-driven layoffs and subsequent fiscal discipline drive in the oil rich economy, has been taking toll on foreign workers for the last five years.
Remittances continue to provide support to Pakistan’s external sector, afflicted by current account deficit that swelled to $12 billion in the last fiscal year. The inflows are getting close to annual exports of $23 to $24 billion, helping the debts-riddled economy recover from balance of payment crisis.
The SBP’s data showed that overseas workers in UAE, consisting of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, remitted $3 billion in the July-February compared to $2.8 billion in the comparable period. Remittances from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, stood at $1.3 billion, down 6.1 percent year-on-year.
Remittances from the US climbed 31 percent to $2.2 billion in the first eight months. The inflows from UK stood at $2.1 billion, up 22.8 percent year-on-year. The SBP’s data further showed that remittances from European Union countries fell 6.3 percent to $393 million in the July-February period.
Remittances from Malaysia showed a substantial growth of 44 percent to $1 billion in the July-February period. In February 2019, the inflow of workers’ remittances amounted to $1.5 billion, which was 9.5 percent lower than January 2019 and 8.7 percent higher than February 2018.
The country-wise details for February showed that inflows from Saudi Arabia, UAE, US, UK, GCC countries and EU countries amounted to $370.04 million, $335.66 million, $240.80 million, $251.99 million, $152.25 million and $37.71 million, respectively compared with the inflow of $348.31 million, $332.18 million, $207.27 million, $201.01 million, $149.4 million and $48.65 million, respectively in February 2018. In February, remittances received from Malaysia, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries amounted to $188.06 million together as against $163.35 million received in February 2018, the SBP data showed.