Billion$ sent home last year

A report released on Mar. 8 by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) group, said that Latin American and Caribbean migrants sent US$61 billion in remittances to their home countries last year.

The report said the latest figure represents a 6 percent increase from US$57.6 billion in 2010, confirming the upward trend in migrants’ money transfers that started in mid-2010.

The IDB said there was a “double digit drop” in remittances in 2009 as a result of the global economic crisis.

“In 2011, nearly every country in this region received a greater dollar amount in remittances than the previous year,” the report said.

“For the remittance market in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2011 was a year of renewed growth after the 2008-2010 period, despite persistent economic uncertainty in Europe,” it added.

For 2012, the MIF expects remittances to this region to grow at a similar rate as last year.

The report said most of the money continued to be sent from traditional host countries, such as the United States and Western Europe.

In the United States, source of about three-quarters of remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean, foreign workers saw improving employment and wage levels, the report said.

As a consequence, it said migrants made more transfers for higher amounts than the previous year.

In contrast, the report said uncertain employment prospects in Europe resulted in drops in remittance flows to the region in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The report said remittances remain a major source of income for many countries in this region.

“In several of the smaller and poorer nations, they far exceed external aid and net foreign direct investment,” it said.

“The importance of these flows lies in the vital role they play for millions of recipient families that depend on remittances for basic needs, even in countries with higher GDP (Gross Domestic Product) levels,” it added.

“In the absence of this regular source of income that these families receive from their family members abroad, many would fall below the poverty line,” the report continued.

The IDB said, in recent years, as regional economies improved, remittances have become a smaller share of the GDP.

It, however, said that, in several countries, remittances are still more than 10 percent of GDP.

For example, in Haiti, which last year received nearly US$2.1 billion, remittances represented more than one quarter of the national income, the report said.

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