By Sanjay Suri, Aug 2 (IPS) – The British are not investing a great deal in the developing world, but remittances from Britain are emerging as a growing counter to poverty, a new survey shows. Immigrants and their families from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean remit on average 870 pounds (1,627 dollars) a family a year, according to a survey ordered by the Department for International Development (DFID).
“We recognise that people in the UK from other parts of Asia and the world bring huge benefits to their country,” Gareth Thomas, minister for international development told IPS. “We welcome the fact that they are fighting against poverty by sending money to their families and friends. We all have responsibilities to our parents and families. This is clearly a way in which people here recognise that responsibility and we welcome it.”
The estimated remittances far outweigh foreign direct investments in almost all developing countries from where migrant families were surveyed. While investments are simple enough to quantify, remittances are not. “This survey is designed from our point to actually focus on that lack of information,” Thomas said. “Of how much money is going from UK to Asia, and Africa.” DFID believes that such remittances are a substantial factor in countering poverty.
“International remittances flows are very large and growing, constituting now a large share of international financial flows and acquiring an ever greater importance in the balance of payments of recipient countries,” the survey report says. Besides, they help in “supplementing the incomes of millions of families in developing countries.” DFID said it had carried out the survey as part of “a concerted effort by international organisations, bilateral donors and non-governmental organisations to better understand the characteristics of migrant remittances in order to help maximise their developmental impacts.” The survey carried out by the company ICM Research in May 2006 was organised as a series or self-completion questionnaires distributed in 143 areas to all black and minority households who had been remitting at least once over the previous 12 months. A total of 1778 questionnaires were returned. ((Read the rest of this long article on IPS).