KOCHI: India is the world’s largest receiver of foreign remittances, thanks partly to over 80 lakh Indians staying in the Gulf region. But falling oil prices could take the sheen off this market.
The fluctuation in oil prices last year seem to have affected foreign remittances already. From a high of 10.2 per cent annual growth in 2012, remittances growth plunged to 1.67 and 0.6 per cent in next two years. It was just getting better in 2015, when India received $72.2 billion remittances, a growth of 2.5% over $70.39 billion in 2014. What’s worrying is, if this pace of growth is sustainable in 2016?
“The oil crisis is slowly affecting the NRIs in the Gulf region and it will take some more time to know the real impact,” said R S Kannan, Director and CEO, NORKA ROOTS, the field agency for Non-Resident Keralites Affairs.
He told Express that NORKA received calls from skilled workers in Oman and Qatar asking advice about exploring other jobs as their employers were in a crisis.
Job losses in Gulf could affect . Though the trend is not visible now, the likely impact will be seen in mid-2016, say experts. According to UN, India’s diaspora population is the largest in the world with 1.6 crore people from India living abroad in 2015. Around 50 per cent or around 80 lakh are in the Gulf region. Over eight crore people in India are dependents of these NRIs.
“It is estimated that 60 per cent NRIs are unskilled, 20 per cent each in semi-skilled and skilled category. The impact of oil price fall on the skilled workforce needs to be studied in detail. In my opinion it may not have a significant effect as skilled workers do not send huge amount back home,” said S Irudaya Rajan, Chair Professor at the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs’ Research Unit on International Migration.