LAHORE - Foreign remittances increased almost 8 percent during the four months of the coronavirus pandemic, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in a statement issued Monday, as compared to 2019's comparable period.

The statement said that overseas Pakistanis sent record remittances in the fiscal year 2020 (FY20), totalling at $23.12 billion and reflecting a surge of 6.4 percent. Moreover, in the months of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown specifically, including March, April, May, and June, the figure rose 7.8 percent, the central bank noted.

Year-to-date (YTD), however, overseas Pakistanis sent in remittances worth $2.46 billion.

Remittances during June 2020 were 50 percent higher than the comparable period in 2019 — $2.47 billion as opposed to $1.64 billion.

In the same month, money sent back home from Saudi Arabia was recorded at $610 million, whereas that from the US, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the UK were clocked in at $450 million, $430 million, and $400 million, respectively, the SBP underscored. These figures translated to an increase of 42 percent, 7 percent, 34 percent, and 41percent, respectively.

In its statement, the central bank cited countries easing their lockdowns in June as one of the reasons behind the higher remittances. The relaxation allowed overseas Pakistanis "to transfer accumulative funds, which they were unable to send earlier".

"Further, it is also believed that they sent remittances to support extended families and friends due to COVID19," the statement added.

"Supportive government policies in terms of extension of Reimbursement of TT Charges Scheme (Free Send Remittance Scheme) to small remitters by reducing threshold from US$200 to US$100, as well as, broadening the scope of incentive scheme for marketing scheme for financial institutions increased the incentives for sending remittances through regular channels."