Former PM: Tunisia uprising will negatively impact Egyptian remittances

Political fallout from Tunisia's ongoing popular uprising threatens to negatively affect the remittances coming into the country from Egyptians working abroad, former Egyptian Prime Minister Abdel Aziz Hegazi has said.

At a conference on Wednesday devoted to the role of remittances in domestic development, Hegazi said that, due to unfolding developments, Egyptian expatriates might find keeping their money abroad more reliable than transferring it to Egypt.

He called on the government to find novel ways of increasing the amounts of money sent home every year by Egyptians expatriates, noting that annual income from remittances represented a prime source of foreign currency.

According to Assistant Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel Hakam, the number of Egyptians currently working abroad ranges between six and seven million, some 70 percent of whom live in the Gulf states. The remaining 30 percent, meanwhile, are spread throughout the US, Europe, Canada and Australia.

Abdel Hakam explained that the lion's share of remittances comes from expatriates in the US, who sent home a total of US$2.2 billion last year, followed by US$1.5 billion from expats in Kuwait and US$1 billion from expats in Saudi Arabia.

During the 2009/10 financial year, Egyptian expatriates worldwide sent home a total of more than US$9.75 billion, representing a 39-percent increase on the year before, according to Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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