Remittances are the money which are sent to home-country by people working abroad. These are sent by the workers to support their families back at home. It has been noted that the successive governments whenever want to speak about their economic successes, they also speak about the increase in remittances.
Increase in remittances show two things. First, the number of people who leave the country to work abroad has increased. This is not a good economic sign. It means the government is unable to provide new employment opportunities to absorb the labor force and people are compelled to find jobs outside the borders of the country. Secondly, it happens when the inflation increases in the country. General prices of goods and services are increased and a worker has to send more money than previously he has been sending. This is also not an improvement which leads to more remittances. Either way the increase of remittances is not something to be claimed as an economic success.
A large Pakistani diaspora is working in different regions of the world ranging from Middle East to Europe and North America. According to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, approximately 8.8 million Pakistanis live abroad .Most of these people send back money to the country. The remittances of FY-19 for Pakistan stood at $21.8 Billion, and the exports of the same year were $24.21 Billion. It means that 8.8 million Pakistanis were able to earn slightly less than the total population of the country. If the government considers remittances good for the country then the population control program should be discouraged. If more and more babies are born then we have a greater workforce who go abroad and in turn send more remittances. In some countries producing babies is easier than producing goods and services.
This situation is something that cannot accrue prosperity and development. Take Philippines as a prime example. She has the largest workforce in the world working abroad. As of 2019, there were over 12 million overseas Filipinos. In the same year, overseas Filipinos sent back $32.2 Billion to the Philippines. Despite the fact, Philippines does not stand in the ranks of economically well-functioning countries. Still the ambitious Rodrigo Duterte has to deal with the tough economic and social issues of the country including anti-drug operations using vigilantes. Training the people of the country to mere serve as maids and low skill workers for the foreigners does not augur well for the country itself.
To conclude, our policymakers should come out of the notion that remittances are the part and parcel of the economic development of the country. Instead of sending people abroad for work, their potential should be enhanced and utilized back at home .Remittances are something which are not sustainable. For example, the fall in oil prices will greatly reduce the remittances from the Gulf countries. That is why, it is high time that the coming governments should refrain befooling people on the name of remittances for political purposes.
The writer is an MS Economics Scholar at University of Balochistan