Remittance inflows dropped by a marginal 0.5 percent in the last fiscal year that ended mid-July, despite popular labour markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Malaysia being severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic that left millions of expat workers with no choice but to pack their bags and leave.
According to the Nepal Rastra Bank’s annual macroeconomic report released on Monday, Nepali migrant workers sent home Rs 875.03 billion in the last fiscal year. The report shows that Nepal received an all-time high remittance of Rs 100.16 billion during the last month of the fiscal year (mid-June to mid-July) that boosted the overall remittance earning.
The central bank said that the number of Nepali workers seeking approval for foreign employment decreased by 20.5 percent to 193,945 individuals in the review period. Similarly, the number of Nepali workers (renew entry) seeking approval for foreign employment decreased 34.7 percent to 177,980 individuals in the last fiscal year.
“We had initially expected that Covid-19 would cause a severe contraction to remittance earning as tens of thousands of Nepalis were reported to return home,” said Gunakar Bhatta, spokesperson for the country’s central bank. “But the country did not see migrant workers returning home in big volumes.”
He said that migrant workers may have felt safe to live where they were given the ill-preparation to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic at home. Some labour rights activists said that the high airfare cost was the key reason thousands of migrant workers could not fly back home from different labour destinations.
As of Monday, according to Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre statistics, more than 52,000 Nepalis have returned home—majority of them from the labour destinations.
According to the centre, the highest arrivals of 14,745 were from the United Arab Emirates, followed by Saudi Arabia 7,817 and Malaysia 7,795. Similarly, 6,320 returned home from Kuwait and 5,668 from Qatar.