Low Remittance Spurs Ministry On

December 29th, 2009 | by addis portal |

The average annual remittance of 700 million dollars over the past three years from Ethiopians in the Diaspora is less than what was expected but an improvement from earlier remittances, Seyoum Mesfin, Foreign Affairs minister, told Parliament on Thursday, December 25, 2009.


Ethiopia is getting lower remittance than other countries, such as Kenya and Egypt said Eyob Tesfaye (PhD), former head of the Public Financial Institutions Supervising Agency. Seyoum, however, did not give any comparative figures.


In 2007, Kenyans in the Diaspora had sent home nearly 1.6 billion dollars, achieving a per capita remittance of 42 dollars. Ethiopians on the other hand sent home only 359 million dollars, with a per capita remittance of only four dollars, according to a United Nations report for 2009.


However, 1.2 billion to 1.5 billion dollars was remitted to Ethiopia through non-banking systems, Eyob says.


The government needed to work aggressively to create awareness among the Diaspora who, according to him, were usually politically motivated and even strove to obstruct other people from sending money home.


Investments by the Diaspora are growing, Seyoum told the House, stressing that the investment capital by 1,884 such Ethiopians, as reported by regional investment bureaus, had reached 17 billion Br by 2007/08.


These people invested in agriculture, hotel and tourism, construction, real-estate, health and forestry all the while creating 90,000 new jobs, Seyoum said and added that 19,000 Ethiopian born foreign nationals had already taken the Yellow Card which guaranteed them same rights as Ethiopian citizens.


The privilege, Seyoum explained, given to the Diaspora to get local bank accounts in foreign currency has already been claimed by 1,000 people, which Eyob felt was a very small number as it was achieved in the course of 10 years.


“I think this does not present much interest to the Diaspora due to a number of factors; not the least of which is that the maximum amount one is allowed to reserve may not exceed 5,000 dollars,” he said.

Factors including lack of interest to send money for investment and consumption purposes combined with the fact that many of the Ethiopians are engaged in casual employment making them subsistent resulted in small amounts of remittance, Eyob said.

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