BE2C2 Report – Irshad Salim — A Pakistani in the U.S. sent double the amount to Pakistan last year as compared to a Pakistani working in Saudi Arabia during the same period. The Pakistani in U.S. also sent fifty percent more than a Pakistani working in the UAE for the same period.
A Pakistani in the U.S. also remitted 49 percent more than a Pakistani in the UAE even though the latter remitted 31 percent more than a Pakistani in the Kingdom for the same period, the data shows.
The observation is based on data analysis of remittances received last fiscal year (July 2014-June 2015) by the Pakistani government from worldwide Pakistani Diaspora (PD). Specially from the 3 major remittance centers – Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA.
Remittances from these three countries totaled $12.4 billion — 67 percent of the total $18.4 billion remittances last year. The combined total population of these expats stand at 3.8 million out of a total PD population of almost 7 million — 54 percent.
It means 54 percent of Pakistani Diaspora concentrated in these three countries sent 67 percent of total remittances last year.
Comparing the figures with their estimated population in Saudi Arabia, UAE and the United States, it emerges that on the average a Pakistani working in KSA remitted $2667; a Pakistani working in the UAE remitted $3500; and a Pakistani living in the USA sent $5200.
Despite the fact that on the average a Pakistani working in Saudi Arabia sent the lowest amount ($2667) as compared to UAE ($3500) and USA ($5200), remittances from the kingdom stood out as the highest among the PD community worldwide: $5.6 billion. UAE remittances were $4.2 billion and USA remittances were: $2.6 billion.
Reason: The largest population of Pakistani expats (2.1 million) work in the kingdom (figure provided by Syed Hammad Abid, Community Welfare Attache at Pakistan embassy), followed by UAE where 1.2 million Pakistanis work (1.3 million according to an official at the embassy), and in the US only around 500,000 live (according to OPF website).
The average individual remittance figure derived from the data and the combined remittance value of each PD community in the three countries indicate that on the average, a Pakistani living in the US has either more disposal income to send home or more credit worthiness to borrow and make investments back home or a combination of both.
The Pakistani in America also has access to more information freely available to him about the 5 Ws (Why, Where, What, When, Which) of investments, which he relates with opportunities in his homeland.
It is probable that Pakistanis in the US were borrowing money from banks last year at lower interest rate and investing back home for higher yields — in which case the per capital debt ratio of each such individual may have gone up though. It will be interesting to wait and analyze remittance figures from the US for the fiscal year July 2015 – June 2016. According to an unofficial estimate, remittances from the US have slowed down.
On the other hand, the combined remittance figure from KSA and the UAE has grown from last year. So, while each Pakistani in the kingdom sent the lowest per head amount last year, the community of 2.1 million Pakistanis living in the kingdom who generated the highest total amount of $5.6 billion last year is expected to send more this year. According to an estimate, it is expected to increase on year-to-year basis.
Last fiscal year (2014-2015) worldwide Pakistani Diaspora remitted $18.4 billion, according to State Bank figures. Out of the total, Pakistani expats communities’ remittances from three major countries — the kingdom, UAE and the USA amounted to $12.4 billion. This is 67 percent of the $18.4 billion worldwide total Pakistan received last year.
While Saudi remittance was $5.6 billion; UAE remittance was $4.2 billion, and US remittance was $2.6 billion. Among the three major remittance sending countries, the kingdom as a whole was the largest sender, followed by the UAE and USA.
Saudi remittances constituted 45% of $12.4 billion combined remittances from the three middle eastern countries. Remittances from the UAE constituted 34%, and US remittances amounted to 21%.
The combined total of KSA and UAE remittances stood at $9.8 billion (expected to increase in 2015-2016), and constitutes 53% of the total amount of $18.4 billion that Pakistan government received as remittances last year. US contribution was 14%. Combined KSA, UAE and USA remittances amounted to 67 percent of the total remittances.
Conclusion: The Pakistani community in KSA and UAE has the potential to match if not exceed a Pakistani’s remittances from the USA – if an enabling environment and facilitation framework for individual and group investments are established.
Since the average of KSA and UAE individual remittance figures equals $3084 ($2667+$3500)/2, the difference between US figure and KSA+UAE figure — $2116 — can be considered untapped . This is the theoretical combined investment power of the Pakistani community in KSA and UAE.
How can this be harnessed? Provincial governments can create Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to serve group investments – with Punjab and KPK as obvious ground zeros as most Pakistani expats in the Middle East belong to these provinces. As for Sindh and Balochistan, they have ample resources and opportunities to offer these SPVs monetization platforms. Public-Private collaboration can jump-start all these. However, political will, and realization that security and stability in the provinces matter the most can enable the initiative.
Also, economic diplomacy with adequate, trained, honest and sincere staffing of commercial missions abroad are necessary tools to create the synergy. They can communicate, interact, inform, educate, mentor and thus enable Pakistani expats on the benefits of investing back home.
While there are more discussions and dissemination of information on features of available investments back home, there is hardly any articulation of advantages and benefits such investment opportunities can bring to the potential expat investors.
Highlighting the Features, Advantages and Benefits (FAB) of any product while trying to sell it to an indifferent, ignorant or skeptical potential customer (investor) has become a public-private partnership program worldwide. Presently this area remains mostly a lucrative government domain, according to many observers and business analysts.
The writer is Editor-in-Chief of PKonweb and a business analyst.