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Labour Migrants Transfer over $700 mln to Kyrgyzstan since Early 2018

Wednesday 20 June 2018

BISHKEK (TASS) — Kyrgyz migrants working abroad have transferred more than $700 mln to their homeland since early 2018, the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan stated in a message in June 18, TASS news agency reported. This amount is $84.5 mln more than in the same period last year, the bank said.

The National Bank of Kyrgyzstan noted that about 95% of the total value of funds comes from Kyrgyz migrants working in Russia. Indeed, over the past year, Kyrgyz migrant workers transferred about $2.4 bln to their homeland, $2.2 bln of which were sent from Russia.

The State Migration Service under the government of Kyrgyzstan said that about 800,000 Kyrgyz citizens are temporarily working abroad. More than 600,000 of them work in Russia and about 30,000-50,000 in Kazakhstan, while the rest work in Turkey, South Korea, countries of Europe and the US.

In the decade of economic crisis in Central Asia following the break-up of the Soviet Union, all of the newly independent republics — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — were migrant sending countries. The departure of a large number of qualified specialists in the 1990s resulted in a brain drain that is still felt in the region today.

Kazakhstan’s economy was the first to find itself on the road to recovery. Around the year 2000 it emerged as an attractive destination for labour migrants from other Central Asian countries. Disparities in economic development and standards of living, as well as geographic closeness and visa free travel (with some exceptions) within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) encouraged workers from neighbouring Central Asian countries, where the supply of labour was excessive and the wages low, to migrate not only to Russia but also to its southern neighbour.

In the mid-2000s, over one million people were coming to Kazakhstan annually as labour migrants, contributing an estimated ten to 12% to the country’s GDP. Although their number has dropped in recent years due to the economic slowdown, Kazakhstan continues to benefit economically from the presence of migrant workers.

A considerable share of the economically active population of the Central Asian countries is working abroad: in Uzbekistan, the most populous, 20% are working in Russia, Kazakhstan or a Western country. The emigration of excess workers balances local labour markets, preventing social tension and unrest. For migrants, the major gain from working abroad is an improvement of their family’s economic situation. They also gain professional and social experience and are likely to get better jobs upon returning to their home country.

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