January 16, 2008

$77m drop

www.fijitimes.com - Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MONEY remitted by Fijians working overseas hit $183.7-million in September last year a drop of almost 30 per cent when compared to the $260.7m for the same period in 2006.

Reserve Bank of Fiji acting deputy Governor Barry Whiteside said reasons for the decline could not be ascertained by the central bank.

"remittance have grown significantly in the past few years, rising from $50million in 1999 to $320million in 2006," said Mr Whiteside.

"This surge in inflows has helped Fiji's balance of payments position, especially as the rising trends occurred during a period when exports were generally flat (with growth in imports substantial)."

"In 2007, however, we have seen a decline from 2006 levels."

"Latest figures show that cumulative to September 2007, remittance received through the formal channel was around $183.7m, a decline of around 30 per cent, when compared to $260.7 million recorded in the same period in 2006." Mr Whiteside said remittance, like other services inflows, were volatile and sensitive in nature to a number of factors, such as global economic conditions.

He said the RBF could not explicitly ascertain the reasons for the decline in remittance last year.

He said the RBF collated and published data on a regular basis through the formal channel.

That, Mr Whiteside said, was based on reports from commercial banks and authorised foreign exchange dealers.

"However, it is important to note that the personal remittance inflows through informal channels may be significant, similar to the experiences of other developing countries," he said. He said the latest figures were available to September of last year.

The Bureau of Statistics last December quoted provisional figures of $210.4m as tourism earnings for the third quarter last year. This, the bureau said, was a decline of $10.5m or 4.8 per cent when compared to $220.9m for the same period last year.

In its economic review at the end of October last year, the RBF said production in the sugar industry declined by almost 10 per cent cumulative to September with the recent drought expected to affect the 2007 and 2008 crops.

Attempts to get comments from interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase were unsuccessful.

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