By The Nation
Migrant workers are among the groups hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many facing scant job security and limited access to social assistances, the report noted. Large-scale unemployment and wage reduction among migrant workers also threaten the wellbeing of many households in Asia and the Pacific who depend on remittances to meet their daily needs.
“Based on our worst-case scenario, where the Covid-19 economic impact persists throughout the year and dissipates halfway in the last three months of the outbreak, global remittances will fall by $108.6 billion [Bt3.393 trillion] in 2020,” the report said – an 18.3-per-cent drop on expected remittances.
It added that remittances to Asia and the Pacific would fall by $54.3 billion, equivalent to 19.8 per cent of remittances in 2018.
By subregion, remittances in South Asia are expected to fall furthest, by $28.6 billion (24.7 per cent of 2018 receipts), followed by remittances to Central Asia ($3.4 billion, 23.8 per cent), Southeast Asia ($11.7 billion, 18.6 per cent), and East Asia ex-People’s Republic of China and Japan (1.7 billion, 16.2 per cent). Remittances to the Pacific will also fall ($267 million, 13.2 per cent).
The majority of the decline in remittance flows to the region is explained by a $22.5 billion fall in remittances from the Middle East, which accounts for 41.4 per cent of the total remittance loss in Asia. This is followed by a $20.5 billion slump in remittances from the United States, (37.9 per cent of total). The fall in remittances from the EU and the United Kingdom accounts for 6.3 per cent of the total, or $3.4 billion. The decline from Russia amounts to $2.1 billion, of which $2 billion reflects the decline in remittances going to Central Asia.
By percentage, the Middle East and the Russia experienced the sharpest decline – over a third – primarily reflecting the effects of low demand and oil prices on remittances.
The bank urged governments in the region to help manage the impact of Covid-19 on remittances by extending temporary social services to assist stranded and returning migrants, providing income support to poor remittance-recipient families, and designing health, labour, and skills policies to help migrants return to their jobs, or be employed in their home countries.