Thursday, January 31, 2013
The amount of money being sent by migrants to their families back home topped £335billion last year, making it a larger economy than Iran or Argentina, it was revealed today.
The figure has tripled in the last ten years and is now three times bigger than the total aid budgets given by countries around the world as more people than ever choose to live abroad.
It has sparked debate whether this so-called remittance money could be a viable alternative to relying on help from other governments.
Cash flow: This graphic shows how much money is being sent by migrants to their families back home and where it is being transferred from in a transient economy that topped £335billion last year, according to new figures by the World Bank
The figures from the World Bank, for example, show that migrants in the UK sent nearly £2.5billion to India in 2011, compared to just £280million handed over by the state.
Britain's shadow minister for international development, Rushanara Ali, who was born in Bangladesh, believes the UK government should try to harness migrant money to complement aid spending.
'I've never heard someone with an origin in another country not feel a sense of obligation or a sense of contribution,' she told The Guardian.
'There will always be pressure on budgets. The time is ripe for coming up with new ideas on how diaspora communities can make a difference.'
Last month, a poll revealed just one in four people support Britain spending billions of pounds on foreign aid every year, with more than 60 per cent believing the cash is wasted.
The finding was a major blow to David Cameron, who is committed to protecting international development from budget cuts.
Globally, there are more than 214million migrants, which would make it the fifth most-populated country behind China, India, America and Indonesia.
World Bank officials believe the amount they donate could be billions more because not all cash is sent through banks and money transfer companies on which the figures are based