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Remittances of Lebanese Expats Ease Financial Pressure

Remittances of Lebanese Expats Ease Financial Pressure

Friday, 17 May, 2019 - 10:30
A woman walks outside of Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The World Bank has estimated the inflows of expatriate remittances to Lebanon at $7.2 billion in 2018, a 1.8 percent increase from the previous year.

The inflows stood at $7.1 billion in 2017, it said.

Expatriate remittances to Lebanon were equivalent to 12.7 percent of GDP in 2018, which constituted the 17th highest such ratio in the world and among developing countries, as well as the second highest ratio, behind Palestine (17.7 percent), among Arab countries.

The 2019 austerity budget, which is under discussion by the Lebanese government, seeks to lower Lebanon's deficit to less than 8 percent of GDP compared to 11.5 percent in 2018.

Fears that the budget will include wage or pension cuts have sparked protests by public sector workers and retired soldiers.

In the region, Egypt topped the World Bank's list of remittance recipients with $28.9 billion. It was followed by Morocco ($7.4 billion). Lebanon came third while Jordan was fourth on the list with remittances amounting to $4.4 billion.

Yemen came fifth with $3.4 billion. It was followed by Palestine (The West Bank and the Gaza Strip) with remittances worth $2.6 billion. Tunisia ($2 billion) was seventh on the list while Algeria, Iran and Iraq had inflows of expats of less than $2 billion each.

Remittances to the Middle East and North Africa grew 8.8 percent to $62 billion in 2018, said the World Bank. The growth was driven by Egypt’s rapid remittance growth of around 17 percent.

Beyond 2018, the growth of remittances to the region is expected to continue, albeit at a slower pace of around 3.2 percent in 2019, it added.

The Bank estimates that officially recorded annual remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached $529 billion in 2018, an increase of 9.6 percent over the previous record high of $483 billion in 2017. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, reached $689 billion in 2018, up from $633 billion in 2017.

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