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Migrants

Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Behind a Pattern of Global Unrest, a Middle Class in Revolt
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
For months now, protestors have gathered in the capitals of many developing nations—Turkey, Ukraine, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, and Cambodia, among others—in demonstrations united by some key features. In nearly all these places, protestors are pushing to oust presidents or prime ministers they claim are venal, authoritarian, and unresponsive to popular opinion. Nearly all these governments, no matter how corrupt, brutal, and autocratic, actually won election in relatively free polls. And in nearly all these countries the vast majority of demonstrators hail from cosmopolitan areas: Kiev, Bangkok, Caracas, Istanbul, and other cities. The streets seem to be filled with the very people one might expect to support democracy rather than put more nails in its coffin.

Where Did Press Freedom Suffer Most in 2013? Online.
PBS Media Shift
This month the Committee to Protect Journalists released its annual analysis of Attacks on the Press, including a “Risk List” of the places where press freedom suffered most in 2013. As you might expect, conflict areas filled much of the list — Syria, Egypt, Turkey — but the place on the top of the list was not a country. It was cyberspace. In the past, the list has focused on highlighting nations where freedom of the press are under attack, but this year CPJ wrote, “We chose to add the supranational platform of cyberspace to the list because of the profound erosion of freedom on the Internet a critical sphere for journalists worldwide.” Including cyberspace is a recognition that, at least in terms of press freedom and freedom of expression, the web is not virtual reality, it is reality.

How can we cut the high costs of remittances to Africa?

Massimo Cirasino's picture

Read it in French, Spanish or Mandarin.

Migrant workers, earning money in jobs far from home, sent more than $400 billion to their families back home in 2012. Such remittances remain a vital source of income for millions of people in developing countries: Food, housing, education, health care and more are paid for every day by workers who earn money abroad. Through a simple and repetitive transaction – sending money home – those workers are really sending heart-warming feelings like hope for a better future and love of family.

5x5 = US$16 billion in the pockets of migrants sending money home

Marco Nicoli's picture

Should you ever need a haircut in South London, you would have the option to choose from a wide array of African hair stylists. There you can get your hair colored, cut, or braided, while chatting up the latest gossip in town, and... you can send money back to Nigeria.

Many stores in South London allow you to send money abroad. It looks just like a fruit market, where the sellers have to compete among each other. Aside from trying to lure customers in with the best looking apples and pears, they also keep their prices exposed.

But the world is not... ("...enough" you are thinking, if you are a James Bond fan) ...the world is not South London and remittance services are not crispy apples nor they are juicy pears. The price for sending money might include a fee, taxes, a margin on the exchange rate applied, and a commission to the receiver. And each service is different in terms of speed and extensiveness of the network where money can be picked up by the receiver. In other words, it is not as easy to compare as the price of apples.

Implications of “Nitaqat”, Saudi Arabia's Indigenization Program, Likely to be Modest for Migrants

Sanket Mohapatra's picture

Saudi Arabia's recent indigenization effort titled "Nitaqat" came into effect on September 10. Saudi firms have been color coded to four categories - Red, Yellow and Green, and Blue/VIP.  Firms labeled "Red" will not be able to renew their foreign workers' visas and have until November 26 2011 to improve their status by hiring more Saudi natives.  "Yellow" firms have until February 23 2012 to improve their status and will not be allowed to extend their existing foreign employees' work visas beyond six years.  "Green” or “Excellent” firms with high Saudization rates will be allowed to offer jobs to foreign workers that are employed by firms in the Red and Yellow categories and transfer their visas. And firms in the highest “VIP” category will enjoy the ability to hire workers from any part of the world using a web-based system with minimal clearance.

Enlist the diaspora – and remittance service providers – for fighting malaria

Dilip Ratha's picture

Diaspora members and remittance service providers (RSPs) can potentially help the global fight against malaria and other diseases. It is well known that migrants send extra money home for buying medicine and medical services. But medical care for the family members alone is not enough to keep them safe from malaria and other communicable diseases that can spread from elsewhere in the community. Migrants, therefore, may be willing to contribute to fighting diseases at the community level. Only there isn’t an easy way for a diaspora member to contribute to such efforts.

Are fewer Mexicans crossing the border to the United States?

Sonia Plaza's picture

Migration flows in both directions between the United States and Mexico have diminished according to recent statistics released by the Mexican and United States governments.

Mexican immigration to the United States began to decline in the mid-2006, and that pattern has continued into 2010. The Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Mexican government data indicates that the number of Mexicans annually leaving Mexico for the U.S. declined from more than one million in 2006 to 404,000 in 2010. Rand Corporation also found that the Mexican immigrants returning to Mexico have not increased despite the crisis. 

Whatever happened to Nepal's diaspora bonds?

Dilip Ratha's picture
Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

You might recall that the finance minister of Nepal announced in the annual budget in July 2009 that the government would issue a diaspora bond to raise funds for infrastructure development. Indeed Nepal Rastra Bank followed through in June 2010 by floating a “Foreign Employment Bond”. Although the initial goal was to issue Rs. 7 billion (about $100 million), Rs. 1 billion was floated in the first round. Nepali workers in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Malaysia could buy the bond from one of seven licensed money transfer operators in denominations of Rs. 5,000 (about $65).

Data are hard to come by, but the funds raised have been minuscule, nowhere near target. Apparently, the name of the bond had nothing to do with its unsuccessful launch! 

Will their parents’ DREAM come true?

Sonia Plaza's picture
Photo: istockphoto.com

Since 2001, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (“DREAM Act”) has been discussed in the congressional sessions without success. On December 8th, the fifth version of the DREAM Act passed the House by a vote of 216 to 198. The Senate is likely to vote on this today.  However, it seems that the legislation will be short of the 60 votes needed to bring the bill to the floor for debate. (See article)
 
The current version of the Act would allow undocumented immigrants under age 30, who entered the United States before they reach 16 years old, to attain temporary status if they have graduated from high school or earned a general equivalency degree (GED). To qualify, migrants must attend two years of college or serve in the military as requirement to get temporary residency.  (See article)

Taxing remittances is not a good idea

Sanket Mohapatra's picture

Photo: istockphoto.com
Remittances sent by migrants have become a massive financial resource flow for developing countries with over $300 billion received annually. While most governments have encouraged efforts to increase these hard-currency flows through formal channels, some are considering taxing remittances as an additional source of revenue.     

A few receiving countries already tax remittances, often through indirect means. For example, remittances sent from the US to Cuba can only be paid to recipients in Cuban Convertible pesos (CUC) or Chavitos with a tax of 20 percent for conversion of US$ to CUCs. The US government and a US senator called upon Cuba to repeal this tax when the US lifted restrictions on sending remittances to Cuba. Other countries that have a parallel market premium with an overvalued official exchange rate, e.g., Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Venezuela to name a few, also implicitly tax remittances when they require recipients to convert remittances to local currency at uncompetitive official exchange rates. Philippines used to impose a small Documentary Stamp Tax (DST) of 0.3 pesos for every 200 pesos, but this was scrapped in November (see article).


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