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Remittances fall in July-Aug as Pakistani expats prefer illegal channels

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  • Pakistan receives $4.12bn in two months. 
  • Remittances fall 24% YoY to $2.09bn in August. 
  • Decline mainly due to large currency gap, say analysts. 

KARACHI: The workers’ remittances to Pakistan steeply declined by 22% in July-August as the expatriate workers chose informal channels to send funds amid a widening gap between official and unofficial exchange rates, The News reported Tuesday. 

The country received $4.12 billion in remittances — a key source of foreign exchange — from July to August, down from $5.29 billion in the same period last year, according to data from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). 

In August alone, remittances fell 24% year-on-year to $2.09 billion but rose 3.1% month-on-month.

Analysts said the decline was mainly due to the large difference between the interbank and grey market rates, which reached as high as 10% last month, encouraging many expatriate Pakistanis to use unregulated methods such as hawala and hundi to transfer funds.

Another factor was a drop in inflows from Roshan digital accounts, a scheme launched to attract foreign currency deposits from expats.

Between July and August FY2024, remittances from Saudi Arabia decreased by 23% to $977 million. Inflows from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fell by 37% to $624 million and the United Kingdom by 18% to $638 million.

In July-August FY2024, Pakistanis residing in the United States (US) remitted home $504 million, down from $545 million the previous year.

“The main reason for the fall in remittances compared to last year is the large disparity between interbank, open market and grey market rates,” said Tahir Abbas, head of research at Arif Habib Limited. 

“While remittances transferred through interbank declined, the amount sent through unauthorized routes surged.”

Abbas said that a staff-level agreement on policies to conclude the combined 7th and 8th reviews of the Extended Fund Facility (EEF) between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Pakistani authorities had resulted in an appreciation of the rupee and a narrowing of the interbank and black market rates. 

That resulted in the country receiving $2.7 billion in remittances in August 2022, a significant amount.

He explained that after the IMF’s board approved the disbursement of over $1.1 billion to the cash-strapped economy in August of last year, the rupee strengthened and appreciated from 239 to 219 against the dollar in the interbank market. As a result, there was a high flow of remittances during that time as Pakistani employees abroad sent home more money through formal means.

Abbas expects an improvement in remittances in September as the rupee strengthens following the government’s recent crackdown on illegal dollar traders, hoarders, and black marketers.

The rupee gained 2% against the dollar over the past four trading days, closing at 301.16 in the interbank market on Monday. The gap between the interbank and open market has narrowed from peaks of over 8% due to regulatory measures and enforcement from law authorities.

Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities, said remittances should pick up now that the interbank and grey market gap has been reduced. For Pakistan, which has been grappling with high inflation, dwindling foreign exchange reserves, a weak currency and a deteriorating balance of payments position, the slump in remittances is not a good sign.

The country’s reserves held by the central bank dropped by $70 million to $7.8 billion in the week ending September 1. The country also saw a current account deficit of $809 million in July against a surplus of $504 million in June.

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April FDI in Pakistan increased to $358.8 million, according to SBP

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The inflow for April was $358.8 million, up 177% from $132 million in April FY23. Still, that was 39% more than the $258 million from March.

China was the largest investor, with $439.3 million in FDI from the nation between July and April of FY24—the greatest amount—as opposed to $604 million during the same period of FY23. In April, China accounted for $177 million of the total investment.

With $51.93 and 51.89 million invested in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Canada came in second and third, respectively.

The power industry was the main draw for foreign investors in FY24, which ran from July to April. This period’s FDI in the power industry was $637.5 million, compared to $776.2 million the previous year. From $338 million to $460 million this year, Hydel Power garnered more attention.

Continue reading: In FY23–24, Pakistan’s per capita income increased to $1680.

According to a separate data released on Wednesday, Pakistanis’ per capita income increased to $1680 in FY2023–2024.

The size of the national economy grew from $341 billion to $375 billion in the current fiscal year, according to figures made public by PBS.

Throughout this fiscal year, Pakistanis’ yearly per capita income increased by Rs 90,534; the monthly rise was Rs 7,544.

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OGRA forbids the purchase or sale of inferior LPG cylinders.

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The 313 LPG marketing and 19 cylinder-producing companies received notices from the OGRA, which described the act of refilling inferior LPGO cylinders as harmful.

Avoid supplying LPG to unlicensed distributors, the OGRA has cautioned LPG marketing companies. Only approved distributors will be able to sell and buy LPG going forward, per the notification, which states that new SOPs have been developed for the LPG industry.

Additionally, the warning said that the decision was made in an effort to preserve both lives and the business in response to an increase in cylinder blast occurrences.

Price reductions of Rs 20 per kilogramme for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) were implemented in Quetta on May 3.

There is a reduction of Rs 20 on LPG prices, which means that the price per kilogramme drops from Rs 280 to Rs 260.

The costs of LPG were reduced by Rs 20 per kilogramme earlier, bringing the total decrease to Rs 40 per kilogramme over a few weeks. This is something worth noticing.

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PIA announces a significant student discount.

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According to an airline spokesman, the national flag carrier has recently raised the baggage allowance to 60 kg.

Currently, PIA flies one flight per week on Sundays between Islamabad and Beijing.

The discount may be useful to students who intend to spend their summer vacations in Pakistan or who wish to return home after earning their degrees.

Before, students who wanted to visit China could now receive a 27% reduction on their fares through PIA.

On Eid ul Fitr, the national flag airline also reduced the cost of domestic flights by 20% for both economy and executive economy classes.

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