Record remittances from overseas Pakistanis helping cash-strapped economy: Central bank

Remittances from Pakistani workers abroad exceeded the USD 2 billion mark for the 10th consecutive month in March, the country’s central bank said on Monday, as the cash-strapped nation was scrambling to overcome its financial woes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pakistan’s economic woes have worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic and Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s government is arranging finances from world bodies, including the International Monetary Fund, to tide over the crisis. Record remittances sent by Pakistanis working abroad is the main source of foreign exchange for Pakistan which is struggling to increase its exports.

“Workers’ remittances extended their unprecedented streak of above USD 2 billion for the 10th consecutive month in March,” according to a statement by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The remittances rose to USD 2.7 billion in March, which is 20 per cent higher than the previous month and 43 per cent higher than what it was in March 2020.

“Cumulatively during July-Mar FY21, remittances have risen to USD 21.5 billion, up by 26 per cent over the same period of FY20,” it said. It said that remittance inflows during Jul-Mar FY21 were mainly sourced from Saudi Arabia (USD 5.7 billion), United Arab Emirates (USD 4.5 billion), United Kingdom (USD 2.9 billion) and the United States (USD 1.9 billion).

“Proactive policy measures by the government and SBP to encourage more inflows through formal channels, limited cross border travel in the face of the COVID-19, medical expenses and altruistic transfers to Pakistan amidst the pandemic, and orderly foreign exchange market conditions are continuing to contribute to this sustained rise in workers’ remittances,” according to the bank.

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Prime Minister Khan said that it showed that the love and commitment of overseas Pakistanis with the country was unparalleled.

“You sent over USD 2 bn for 10 straight months despite COVID, breaking all records. Your remittances rose to USD 2.7 bn in March, 43 per cent higher than last year. So far this fiscal year, your remittances rose 26 per cent. We thank you,” he tweeted.

Finance Minister Hammad Azhar also said that the workers’ remittances have recorded a remarkable increase in March as compared to the same time last year. “The increase in the July-March period is 26.2 per cent (from USD 17 bn to 21.5 bn),” he said.



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