Pretty large numbers of Pakistanis are working in different countries around the globe for varying periods. They are engaged in different sectors and services in these countries. They are playing an important and appreciable role in promoting and strengthening the economies of these countries through their humble contributions and in the process are also projecting and promoting Pakistan’s soft, moderate, progressive and peace loving image. More importantly and commendably the Overseas Pakistanis are also making substantial contributions in the strengthening of the national economy through their remittances of their hard earned income to their families back home.

Overseas Workers’ remittances have always been an important key source of balance of payment support.  Overseas Pakistanis home remittances vary from country to country every year depending mostly on the regional and international circumstances and developments as well as the economic and other factors prevailing in the countries they are living and working.

According to facts and figures available in this regard from official sources, the home remittances by Overseas Pakistanis registered a significant  growth of 8.45 per cent during July 2018 to April 2019 as compared to 5.36 per cent during the corresponding period last year and reached to US $ 17.875 billion  during first 10 months of fiscal 2018-19  against US $ 16.482 billion during the same period previous year. When the final figures are available for the whole year, on the back of initiatives taken by the federal government and the trend observed, it is expected that the target of US $ 21.2 billion  for financial year 2018-19  is most likely to be achieved.

 Major share of home remittances from Overseas Pakistanis come from  Saudi Arabia  23.36 per cent ( US $ 4175.32 million), United Arab Emirates 21.19 per cent (US $ 3786.96 million), United States of America USA  15.6 per cent (US $ 2786.35 million), United Kingdom 15.41 per cent (US $ 2755.52 million, other  Gulf Cooperation Council (GFF)  countries 9.61 per cent (US $ 1717.86 million) Malaysia 7.06 per cent (US $ 1262.67 million), European Union  2.72 per cent (US $ 485.89 million) and other countries  account for about 5.07 per cent.

The remittances during the period report, July 2018-April 2019, have somehow declined by 9.28 per cent from European Union countries, 5.40 per cent from other GFF  countries. However, a marginal increase of 2.08 per cent was observed in remittances  from Saudi Arabia  as compared to 9.5 per cent decline  in the same period the previous year.

However, visa free reduction from Saudi Arabia was likely to boost up the inflows  in the coming years from Overseas Pakistanis there.

A strong increase from USA and UK  provided a major push up in inflows. Accordingly, remittances  increased by 21.82 per cent  from the USA and 16.59 per cent  from UK.Economic turnaround, declining unemployment  and rising wages  in the US and UK in the recent years have  supported higher inflows of remittances from these countries.

Besides the USA and the UK, inflows from Malaysia also supported  overall remittances back home from Pakistanis immigrants there with inflows amounting to US $  1.262 billion during the period under report i.e. July 2018-April 2018 . Over the last couple of years , Malaysia has been facing  work force shortage in labour-intensive sectors  such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture. To address the problem , Malaysia  raised the wages for both local and foreign workers in its minimum wage policy of 2013. Following this, the number of Pakistanis  going to Malaysia  for work was  gradually increasing  since 2014-15 , leading to increase in remittances back home from the country.  

In order to further enhance the workers remittances the federal government has already taken number of initiatives and continues to take more initiatives to motivate Overseas Pakistanis to channelize their remittances back home through formal proper and legal channels instead of hundi and other illegal and unauthorized ways and means to ensure their hard earned income benefits the national economy also besides their families.

In order to encourage domestic banks/microfinance banks/exchange companies providing home remittance disbursement servicers, a performance based scheme has been developed to  enhance their  marketing/promotional/awareness efforts  for home remittance product and services. Under this scheme, the Pakistan Government shall reimburse their expenses through the State Bank of Pakistan.

Second “Pakistan Remittance Summit 2019” was held in April 2019  in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Summit was by the top five remittance receiving banks in Pakistan under the patronage of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)  and Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI).

The  summit had shed light on the importance of workers’ remittances for the development and support of Pakistan’s economy and the measures being taken  by State Bank of Pakistan and  Pakistan

Both  SBP and PRI have also launched  an awareness/marketing campaign  for the promotion of formal channels  to inform the remittance customers about the existence  and facilities of sending  remittances through formal channels to position  formal channels as the industry  front runner  in enabling  reliable and efficient  home remittance transactions through a network of banks, exchange companies and Pakistan Post, and; to inform remittance customers  that use of Hawala is illegal.

Technology has been a crucial feature in facilitating  Overseas Pakistanis  and their beneficiaries  in remote areas. Banks are continuously guided to introduce better and efficient technology based products. It is with the help of Block-Chain  technology that  wallet-to-wallet  remittance service services reaches Pakistan Pakistan from  Malaysia instantaneously and in a secure way. Valyou in Malaysia and Telenor  Microcfinance Bank  in Pakistan  joined hands to launch  cross-border  remittance service  through e-wallet  platform in January 2019 which is based on  block-chain technology developed  by  Alipay, a subsidiary of ANT Financial.

And, Saudi Arabia  has drastically reduced the visit visa fee for Pakistanis from $  533 (Dirham 1945) to just  $ 90  (Dirham  328) according to a notification  issued by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Islamabad recently in this regard.

Moreover,  Qatar is also offering Visa on Arrival to all  Pakistani Passport holders.  Qatar plans to issue work visa to around 100,000  Pakistanis in different sectors. Pakistan has offered assistance of Pakistani work force  and professionals  in development activities of Qatar.

These measures will quite obviously increase workforce of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia and Qatar  and  ultimately boost remittances back home by increasing number of  Overseas Pakistanis in these countries.