23 Nov 2005

Remittances from workers overseas can be a viable development strategy says academic

4:04 pm on 23 November 2005

A Fiji academic says the impact of remittances on the Fiji economy in the past year show that labour mobility is a viable development strategy.

The temporary movement of labour has been become a burning issue in the region in recent months, with islands countries pushing for it and New Zealand and Australia saying their preference is for permanent migration.

Don Wiseman has more.

"A senior lecturer in development studies at the University of the Soputh Pacific, Dr Manoranjan Mohanty, says in 2004, money sent back to Fiji by workers overseas was more than the earnings from sugar, gold, fish and mineral water exports combined."

Dr Mohanty says money remitted in the early 1990s amounted to about 20 million US dollars but this has increased by nearly 500 per cent to around 180 million US dollars.

Dr Mohanty says besides the formal remittances, a substantial volume of personal remittances is transferred to Fiji informally.

He says this boosted the total return in 2004 to around 300 million US.

Dr Mohanty says much of the money is from peacekeeping forces in the Middle East and from nurses working overseas.

He says remittances and their proper utilisation may provide an alternate development strategy in the wake of declining economic prospects.