UK, Switzerland appeal to declare remittance as ‘essential service’


Representational image (iStock)
Representational image (iStock)

THE UK and Switzerland on Friday (22) called for greater global collaboration to protect vital money transfers across the globe which account for more than five per cent of GDP in at least 60 developing countries.

They urged countries to support greater access to digital remittance services and to declare remittances an essential financial service and requested service providers to reduce costs and fees.

The call was backed by the World Bank, the UN Capital Development Fund, UN Development Programme and the International Organisation for Migration. Countries such as Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan have already joined the collaboration.

Recently, World Bank predicted remittances to low and middle income countries will fall by 20 per cent or $110 billion in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, money sent by individuals to family and friends living in low and middle income countries totalled $554 billion.

International Development secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The coronavirus pandemic means we are all concerned about how our family and friends here and overseas are coping. That’s why we’re making it easier for diaspora communities in the UK and other countries to continue to transfer money to their relatives.

“This will be lifesaving for some families in developing countries where coronavirus is making a lack of food and healthcare, and extreme poverty, even worse. We are helping to prevent fragile economies from facing potential collapse during the pandemic.”

“Remittances are important, but difficult because of COVID-19. So let’s make sure those barriers are removed worldwide! New technologies can help us here,” said Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

The UK aid support is helping 65 million people in the poorest countries to access digital financial services so they can receive funds via their mobile phones or online, a statement said.