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Remittances in the time of pandemic

The Financial Express, Global, 5 October 2020 - A cross the world, the most severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been observed on livelihoods. During such economic downturns, historically, migrant workers get disproportionately affected. Migrants, even if not unemployed, face reduced pay, or worsened working conditions.

Often xenophobic violence deepens such crisis. Being excluded from the social safety nets create additional miseries. Taking into account all such concerns, the World Bank, IMF and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that remittance outflows to the low and lower-middle-income countries might fall 20 per cent or more in 2020. According to the ADB, countries from South Asia, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan could be the worst affected countries in the world with a fall in remittances by 26 per cent or more.

Remittance inflow to South Asian countries indeed fell during the peak of the global pandemic. For instance, total remittances received in March, April and May in Bangladesh were 12.5 per cent, 23.8 per cent  and 13.9 per cent lower than the same periods the previous year (Figure 1). For the same period, the growth rate in remittances for Nepal and Pakistan was: Nepal (March: 2.3 per cent, April: -56.7 per cent, May: -38.2 per cent); and Pakistan (March: 9.9 per cent, April: 0.8 per cent, May -19 per cent). However, in contrast to the projections, such negative trends reversed in June and July 2020 for all these countries.



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