Remittances to Pakistan Rise 5.1% to $20.5 Billion in 2016

Overseas Pakistanis sent home $20.5 billion in remittances in 2016, an increase of 5.1% over 2015, according to the World Bank. Pakistan's remittances are 7.5% of its 2015 GDP of $270 billion.

Pakistan's Declining Exports:

The increase in remittances from the diaspora is welcome news in Pakistan suffering from precipitous 12% decline of export earnings and gaping 35-year high trade deficit of $24 billion in 2016.

The World Bank report said 2016 remittances to India declined by 5% to $65.5 billion while Bangladesh received $14.9 billion, a decrease of 3.5% from the previous year.

Declining Remittances to South Asia: 

Remittances to  South Asia region as a whole declined by 2.3 percent in 2016, following a 1.6 percent decline in 2015. Remittances from the oil-rich GCC countries continued to decline due to lower oil prices and labor market ‘nationalization’ policies in Saudi Arabia, according to the report.



Top Recipients of Remittances: 

The top recipients of remittances in 2016 are, India ($65.%b), China ($65.2b), the Philippines ($29.1b), Mexico ($28.1b) and Pakistan ($20.3b) and, in terms of remittances as a share of GDP, Nepal (32.2%), Liberia (31.%), Tajikistan (28.8%), Kyrgyz Republic (25.7%) and Haiti (24.7%).

Pakistan is not alone in seeing its exports decline amid weakness in world demand, particularly in Europe with its slowing economy. However, India's 2016 exports decline is much lower at 5.5% and India's trade deficit actually shrank.

Summary: 

Increase in remittances to Pakistan is good news, especially amid declining worldwide remittances. However, Pakistan can not continue to count on remittances from overseas workers in the midst of low oil prices affecting the GCC nations where millions of Pakistanis work. It must take urgent steps to boost exports and lower its trade deficit to avoid yet another bill-of-payments crisis requiring yet another IMF bailout.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s moment of opportunity Op Ed by visting #IMF Chief Chiristine Legard. #investment #debt #growth #exports https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/159423-Pakistans-moment-of-opportunity …

In this mixed global environment, Pakistan cannot rely exclusively on its trading partners to support growth. This means that the country will have to lean on the strength of its own policies. Four priorities are central.

First, make the economy more resilient. With uncertain global prospects, the economy needs to prepare for potential shocks that may come down the road. At 65 percent of GDP, Pakistan’s public debt remains too high, with too many resources going toward interest payments instead of public investment, education, and other growth-enhancing areas. The task at hand is to continue improving public finances while accumulating international reserves. In parallel, social safety nets need further strengthening to protect the most vulnerable segments of society.

Second, raise growth. Pakistan can grow at faster rates than the current 4-5 percent per year. This will require higher investment and greater productivity growth. Public investment in infrastructure can help remove obstacles to economic activity, and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a very good opportunity. With careful management of its financing arrangements, it can be a transformative success. Yet, the private sector also needs to step up in strengthening economic prospects.

Today, private investment in Pakistan accounts for only 10 percent of the economy – much below the average of 18 percent for emerging markets. Completing energy sector reforms and improving governance and the business climate will be crucial to enable faster private sector growth.

Third, the quality of growth matters. Economic growth in itself is not enough unless its fruits are broadly shared among the population. Two dimensions are very close to my heart: education and gender issues. More than six million children of primary school age, including 3.5 million girls, are currently out of school. Higher spending on public education is clearly important, but so are improvements to the quality of education. The country needs to ensure access to opportunity for all segments of society and equip its people with the skills needed for tomorrow’s job market.

Similarly, with only a quarter of women participating in the labour force, Pakistan can add significantly to its growth potential by integrating women better into the economy. This will make growth not only more inclusive, but also higher. IMF studies have shown that closing the gender gap could boost Pakistan’s GDP by almost one third.

Finally, believe in the global system. Pakistan’s exports are only about a quarter of what they could be based on the experience of emerging markets. There is vast untapped potential to trade with neighbours and integrate into global value chains. A sustained focus on regional and international engagement can help realise this potential.

I am confident that Pakistan can seize this moment of opportunity and transform itself into a dynamic, vibrant, and integrated emerging market country. Over the coming years, a stable and vibrant economy that creates sustainable jobs and spreads the fruits of growth more widely can be a strong force for overall domestic stability. The same applies to trade and cross-border investments, which tend to bring people together in the pursuit of mutual economic advantages, and can provide a stabilizing force in the region.


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