Despite difficulties arising out of declining oil prices across GCC States, the volume of expatriate manpower has not witnessed such a decrease. In fact, it recorded an increase in some countries. According to the latest World Bank report, ‘Migration and Development Brief’, remittances to low and middle-income countries are on track to recover this year after two consecutive years of decline.
Accordingly, the outlook for remittances flowing from the region and the world to Asian and African developing countries shows an increase in the coming years.
As for the Sultanate, data published in the Annual Report brought out by the Central Bank of Oman indicate that the value of remittances made by workers from the Sultanate in 2016 reached almost RO 3.952 billion ($10.2 billion), an astronomical sum transferred annually from the country.
Some question whether these amounts transferred by expatriate workers are clean or include dirty money collected from illegal activities, fraudulent or law-breaching financial and commercial transactions or tenders awarded under the table, which should be followed up by those responsible.
According to World Bank estimates, officially recorded remittances to developing countries are expected to increase by 4.8 per cent to reach $450 billion in 2017.
Moreover, remittances to high-income countries are expected to increase by 3.9 per cent to reach $596 billion.
The boom in remittance flows can be attributed to relatively stronger growth in the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States. Consequently, regions most likely to witness the strongest growth in remittance flows this year are sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
In GCC States, precautionary measures to rationalise spending due to declining oil prices and job placement policies are expected to reduce remittance flows to East and South Asia.
A major recipient of remittances, India ranks top, with expected remittances of $65 billion this year, followed by China with $61 billion, the Philippines with $33 billion, Mexico with a record $31 billion, Nigeria with $22 billion and other countries.
As the global economy improves, remittances to the low- and middle-income countries are expected to grow modestly by 3.5 per cent in 2018, or $466 billion. Global remittances will grow by 3.4 per cent to reach $616 billion in 2018.
Today, there are institutions and companies in several Asian and African countries whose mission is to train and qualify labour to be sent to and work for known and unknown purposes, especially in the GCC where such labour is needed in businesses homes.
Remittances are the lifeblood of these and other developing countries, especially at certain times when they are exposed to natural disasters such as the recent earthquakes in Mexico and the storms that devastated the Caribbean.
Some international institutions consider it essential that the global community reduces the cost of the transfer of funds through the abolition of exclusive contracts, particularly in the economies of high-income OECD countries.
They also believe there is an urgent need to address the behaviour of risk by international banks as indicated by some of those interested in these issues in the field of migration and development.
Haider al lawati