Remittances from Indians in Oman on the rise

October 9th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Oct 9 (IANS) Expatriate Indians in Oman are flocking exchange houses as remittances from that Gulf nation rose with the fall in the value of the rupee.“We are seeing an added growth in remittance as those people who had been waiting for the best opportunity to convert money are doing so now,” V.S. Kumar, general manager of Mustafa Sultan Exchange in Muscat, told the Times of Oman.

The exchange rate of over Rs.125 for one Omani riyal is the highest in the last one week, according to the report.

“It is now more than Rs.125 per riyal against Rs.107 in March 2008 and Rs.103 in September 2007,” Kumar said.

At this time last year, RO970.87 fetched Rs.100,000 but now one has to pay just RO796.81 for the same amount, the report said.

A major chunk of the remittances were from labourers engaged in the construction sector.

“A large number of those engaged in the construction industry and other growth sectors are forced to send at least a fixed amount of money to their families regardless of the exchange rates,” the report quoted a source at another exchange house as saying.

“For us these remittances are important.”

Of the over 4.8 million expatriate Indians in the Gulf, 500,000 are in Oman. The current global financial crisis is a major factor for this rise in remittances, according to experts.

“With the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy case, the stock markets across the world are experiencing a slump, which has had an adverse impact on Asian markets vis-a-vis Indian share market, and with foreign institutional investors taking away money from the Indian share market, the rupee started getting weak,” Kumar said.

The ongoing festive season has also contributed to the rise in remittances from the Gulf over the last one month.

“The positive swing is more due to the Ramadan and Onam and other festivities than the effect of rupee value,” Sudhir Shetty, chief operating officer of UAE Exchange, told IANS as banks and exchange houses in the United Arab Emirates saw remittances to India rising by around 25 percent in September.

Similar trends were also reported from Qatar and Saudi Arabia where Indians, seeing the fall in rupee, rushed to exchange houses to remit money home for Eid-ul-Fitr and Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala.

According to a World Bank report this year, India is the highest receiver of remittances from abroad.

Around 5.7 million Indians from across the world sent $27 billion as remittances in 2007 and the Gulf accounted for a large chunk of it.

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