Cost to send money from U.S., Canada ‘unacceptably high’ – Greenidge

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MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge has criticised the high cost to send remittances to Guyana from North America. On Wednesday, the minister said the high cost to send money here from North America is of great concern to the government. He was addressing participants at the opening ceremony of a two-day Inter-Agency Workshop on remittances, being held at Cara Lodge, Quamina Street, Georgetown.
Being held under the theme, “Migration and Development in Guyana,” the workshop is geared at among other things, examining ways by which the high transferal fees attached to remittances can be lowered.
It was disclosed that 5.8 per cent of the money coming from the United States to Guyana is lost to the money transfer agencies, while approximately 10.7 per cent of the money coming from Canada fail to reach low- income recipients here.
The Foreign Affairs Minister described the rates as “unacceptably high” and said Government is looking at ways and means of having those fees reduced.
“Let us use this opportunity to find ways to ensure that the cost of sending remittances to Guyana is reduced,” he told participants.
He noted that while migration remains a significant global problem , Guyana heads a list of countries that has migrants who send resources home regularly. Greenidge noted that remittances have proven quite beneficial to the local economy in that it is a means of investing and ensuring that those who are vulnerable have money in their pockets.
It also enhances the country’s economic performance. “Remittances have characterised movements of people , the diaspora for over a century has been a reflection of the fact that many are economic migrants who try to improve their well-being and welfare and in the process they also direct, channel resources back to their countries in order to acquire assets… house- building…facilitating the movement of other family members.”
The minister said in examining the statistics of the Caribbean Bloc, it was recognised that there has been a steady flow of remittances to Guyana from the diaspora over the years. In 2012, US$469M entered the country and this represented 16 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2014, when the world suffered as a result of the economic meltdown, the country saw remittances in the amount of some US$332M or 11 per cent of the GDP.
“16 per cent of the GDP is a very significant growth,” said the Foreign Affairs Minister. He said while Guyana benefits from remittances annually, it is important to examine the impact of same on consumption, inequality, investment and savings as they impact on the labour markets and the quality of human capital.
“We are, as I indicated, one of the major beneficiaries of inflows from our diaspora —but at the same …the average cost of sending remittances…from London, New York and Toronto in December 2015 is roughly 7.73%.”
The Inter-Agency workshop on Remittances is aimed at helping government find ways to ensure that the cost of remittances would be reduced, so that the benefits of same can be maximised.
The workshop is hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and is coordinated by the ACP-EU Migration Action.