Remittances could boost rural economies: UN



United Nations: Remittances, the money sent by migrants to their home countries could generate USD 30 billion annually for investment in rural areas if initiatives were scaled up, a United Nations agency that works to improve the lives of the world's rural poor on Saturday said.

Remittances "can empower rural people to blaze a trail out of poverty and exclusion," said Kanayo F Nwanze, President of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"The value of remittances is staggering, but the rural poor need greater impact," Nwanze said, underscoring that "we need more strategic ways to invest the USD 200 billion sent home to the rural areas every year".

The value of remittances is staggering, but the rural poor need greater impact, he said adding the world needs more strategic ways to invest the USD 200 billion sent home to the rural areas every year.

More than 215 million people across the globe live outside of the countries they call home.

Most remittance families operate outside of the world's financial system, dependent on costly cash transfers that often require significant travel for rural recipients.

Despite the global prevalence of electronic money transfers, most migrant workers are excluded from convenient, modern banking and are forced to initiate more than one billion separate remittance transactions worldwide each year.

Reducing transaction costs is a key priority as well as affirming the significant role that Diaspora play in rural development, particularly agriculture, the IFAD chief added.

Organised jointly by IFAD and the World Bank, the event has more than 350 participants including representatives from the Group of Eight (G8) largest world economies, as well as central bankers and microfinance institutions, money transfer operators and postal networks.

Total transactions from the US to India account for 38 per cent of the remittance business globally.

India continued to top the remittances list in 2012 while China is placed a close second with USD 66 billion expected migrant remittances in the same year.

The World Bank said remittance flows to the developing world are expected to exceed earlier estimates and total USD 406 billion this year an increase of 6.5 percent from the previous year and is projected to grow by 7.9 percent in 2013, 10.1 per cent in 2014 and 10.7 per cent in 2015 to reach USD 534 billion in 2015.

PTI