|New research demonstrates the astonishing scope of remittances, with formally documented flows now estimated at US$90 billion for 2003. Globally, remittances now constitute the largest source of financial flows to developing countries after foreign direct investment (FDI), even exceeding FDI in some states. To coincide with the release of a new book on this topic entitled Remittances: Development Impact and Future Prospects, the InfoShop and the Financial Sector Vice Presidency at the World Bank sponsored an event at Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 30, 2005, which featured discussions by the book’s authors.
Samuel Munzele Maimbo, Financial Sector Specialist for the South Asia Finance and Private Sector, and Dilip Ratha, Senior Economist in the Development Prospects Group, collaborated to produce Remittances, an exploration of policy options for enhancing the poverty alleviation impact of remittance money in recipient countries. The work also addresses concerns about increasing migration and inequality while looking at new technologies that allow remittance service providers to reduce direct transaction costs and open new channels. In turn, convenience for remitters is enhanced and levels of transparency and accountability for regulators and policy makers are improved.
The session was chaired by Jeffrey Lewis, International Finance Manager in the Development Prospects Group. David Grace, Senior Manager for the World Council of Credit Unions, and Donald F. Terry, Manager of the Multilateral Investment Fund at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), offered their comments. During the question and answer period, attendees asked about the microeconomic conclusions that can be drawn from this study, the sustainability of remittance-based consumption, and methods for measuring the transfer and receipt of remittances.