Remittances in the Balance of Payments Framework: Problems and Forthcoming Improvements

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1 Remittances in the Balance of Payments Framework: Problems and Forthcoming Improvements World Bank Regional Workshop: Enhancing the Effectiveness and Integrity of Bilateral Remittance Transfers Between Malaysia and Indonesia June 9-11, 2008, Bali, Indonesia Chee Sung Lee International Monetary Fund

2 Improving Statistics on Remittance Background Current concepts Main issues Revised concepts Challenges Compilation Guide on Remittance Data Partnerships

3 Background In 2004 G8 gave prominence to the role of remittances in economic development Subsequently G7 Finance Ministers requested formation of international working group to improve data on remittances Early 2005 some 60 compilers and data users met to form a working group for improving data

4

5 Mongolia Pakistan 181 5,121 China 15,251 Korea 918 Japan 1,380 Nepal 1,453 Bangladesh 5,428 India 25,426 Myanmar 116 Malaysia Sri Lanka 1,364 2,350 Cambodia 5,722 Thailand 1,333 Indonesia 1,883 Philippines 15,250 Australia 3,119 Remittance Inflows Selected countries (Millions of US dollars in 2006) New Zealand 1,002

6 Remittance Outflows Selected Asian/Pacific countries (Millions of US dollars in 2006) Malaysia Korea Japan China Australia New Zealand 5,560 4,244 3,470 3,107 2,815 1,341 Remittances defined as the sum of compensation of employees, worker s remittances and migrants transfers from the IMF Balance of Payments Statistics

7 Poland 4,370 Czech Rep. 1,186 Finland 698 Estonia 402 Latvia 483 Lithuania 622 Belarus 334 Slovenia Hungary Romania 6,707 Bos. Herz 1,943 Croatia Bulgaria 1,695 1,234 Macedonia 267 Greece Albania 1,360 1,543 Ukraine 829 Remittance Inflows Turkey 1,111 Georgia 485 Russia 3,091 Azerbaijan 813 Armenia Selected Countries (Millions of US dollars in 2006) 659 Kazakhstan 187 Kyrgyz Rep 739 Tajikistan 1,019

8 Remittance Inflows Selected Countries (Millions of US dollars in 2006) Netherland 2,424 U.K. 5,020 Belgium 7,220 Germany 6,670 Luxembourg 1,289 France 12,480 Italy 2,630 Portugal 3,329 Spain 8,863 Switzerland 1,859

9 Switzerland Germany Russia Spain Luxembourg Netherlands France Remittance Outflows Selected European countries (Millions of US dollars in 2006) United Kingdom Kazakhstan 13,805 12,350 11,438 11,004 Italy 8,220 7,584 6,662 4,520 4,330 3,036

10 Current Concepts In most cases remittance flows are measured through balance of payments (BoP) statistics Countries rely on : bank reporting systems; models based on household surveys and labor data; and counterpart information. Remittances are usually the sum of a few BoP items involving workers remittance, compensation of employees and migrant transfers, all among related persons The migration status of a remitter is critical to measurement of remittance flows

11 Main Issues BoP definition of workers remittance is too narrow and imprecise Link to migration status is problematical; a resident s transaction is classified as a current transfer and excluded Link to employment income excludes other sources of fund Data users assume that official data do not include informal flows In fact, BoP data does not distinguish between formal and informal flows and coverage as well as practices vary from country to country

12 Main Issues (cont.) Difficulty in determining who is a related person; excludes transfers of governments, corporations and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) Current compilation methods have weaknesses, e.g. high thresholds of reporting banks, outdated parameters of models, and failure to capture informal flows Overall, conceptually BoP items considered to be remittance are difficult to understand and identify, and are most time not intuitive Where available data is incomplete and compilers and data users lack guidance in working with remittance information

13 Table Global Flows and Discrepancies Credit Debit Global discrepancy Source: Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook 2007, Part 2 (preliminary data). Note: Data refer to the sum of compensation of employees and workers remittances. All data are in billions of US$.

14 Working Group Objectives Agree on new definitions for remittances, to be incorporated in the forthcoming sixth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM6) Develop compilation guidance for identifying data sources and applying estimation methods

15 New Definitions and Concepts Replace workers remittances with personal transfers Introduce three new supplementary items to capture components of income and transfers - personal remittance - total remittance - total remittance and transfers to NPISHs Remove migrants transfers and the concept of migrant from the BOP framework Replace migration status with residence status

16 Presentation of the Definitions Total Remittances and Transfers to NPISHs Total Remittances Personal Remittances Personal transfers (part of current transfers) Compensation of employees less taxes and travel Capital transfers between households Social benefits Current transfers to NPISHs Capital transfers to NPISHs

17 Definitions (continued) Personal transfers These cover all current transfers between resident and non-resident households Concept not based on migration nor employment status Thought to be simpler while avoiding inconsistencies and problems of previous concept

18 Definitions (continued) Personal remittances Sum of personal transfers, compensation of employees less taxes (CoE-), travel expenses, cross-border transfers between households, etc CoE- refers to the compensation of nonresident workers less the costs associated with working abroad While this item is conceptually appealing for BoP purposes it has been considered a supplementary item

19 Definitions (continued) Total remittances Sum of personal remittances and social benefits Total remittances and Transfers to NPISHs Transfers to NPISHs includes current and capital transfers. Data users have expressed doubts about the usefulness of these two concepts, they are thus considered supplementary items for BoP

20 Definitions (concluded) Supplementary items will not be part of the standard BoP presentation and may not necessarily be identified in all relevant publications (e.g. IFI) Supplementary items may be derived from standard components but may also conflict with the BOP structure The BPM6 presentation of standard components does, however, include all items needed to calculate all four remittances measures

21 Challenges Many countries do not report compensation of employees or workers remittances Data coverage and accuracy is often lower than for other types of transactions Data sources are difficult to develop Global discrepancies are large and growing

22 Challenges (continued) Many countries devote insufficient resources to collecting remittance statistics Commitment of national compilers working in partnership is prerequisite for strengthening remittance statistics Further work needed on a detailed compilation guide

23 Compilation Guide Luxembourg Group formed as a voluntary group of compilers and experts for collecting an inventory of successful compilation approaches A Compilation Guide has been drafted to provide practical advice to compilers and data users Many data users express a need for bilateral data, although this is desirable, complete global bilateral data is unrealistic However, bilateral data on major corridors should be encouraged

24 Compilation Guide (continued) Many countries use transactions reporting (ITRS) by banks and foreign exchange bureaus as a source of remittance data Some countries have highly developed ITRS and for them a low costs, up-to-date data source is available ITRS usually does not cover informal flows and in-kind transfers and is subject to variations in the policy environment E.g. Brazil uses ITRS effectively because of exchange controls, only banks can engage in FX, the Central Bank and banks have a sophisticated data exchange system and workers remittances are from distant countries

25 Compilation Guide (continued) Some countries use direct reporting which is different from ITRS as it focuses only on remittances and does not rely on settlement data This would include reporting from remittance service providers (RSPs) This method has been useful particularly in Europe, Mexico and elsewhere

26 Compilation Guide (continued) Some countries use household surveys to obtain data on remittances from recipients and senders This approach is methodologically difficult, often expensive and involves long lags Moreover, the results may not be robust because of the possibility of under-reporting

27 Compilation Guide (continued) Some countries also use modeling techniques to estimate data on remittances This allows estimates to be derived from demographic and microeconomic data sets Macroeconomic models are also used to estimate remittance flows as a residual While these approaches are interesting as well as relatively fast and inexpensive, their results suffer from a lack of appropriate validation E.g. Bulgaria uses data on travel and potential earnings to estimate CoE E.g. USA uses information on migrant workers and propensity to remit to calculate worker remittance outflows

28 Compilation Guide (continued) Some related data sources for estimating remittances include demographic data on migration, overseas workers, etc. Information from administrative records, such as social security, work permits, tax returns, etc Such additional data sources are useful for filling in gaps, checking and validating estimates, and supplementing ITRS Many countries combine data sources to capture all relevant transactions, but this can also be problematic as compilers seek to avoid inconsistencies, overlap, etc.

29 Compilation Guide (concluded) The Compilation Guide will include suggestions on how to summarize definitions and the associated guidance on how to deal with the resulting data needs It will offer advice on how to critically assess and review possible data sources and compilation approaches Thus far some 14 countries are contributing material to populate this Compilation Guide The World Bank and IMF are working towards its completion and publication by end 2008

30 Partnerships United Nations Technical Sub-group on the Movement of Persons (TSG) partnership with central banks, national and international statistics agencies, and IFIs. Balance of Payments Committee (BOPCOM) 6 th BoP Manual Advisory Expert Group on National Accounts (AEG) 1993 SNA Task Force on Statistics of International Trade in Services (TFSITS) The World Bank and IMF stand ready to partner with member countries and regional institutions to strengthen remittance statistics. Country authorities and donors should strive to devote more resources to compiling remittance data and study important corridors for such flows

31 Advice to Data Users Critically compare the sources and methods behind different estimates on remittance flows Do not trust datasets which are not supported by underlying metadata bases. Be cautious with data stemming from advocacy campaigns

32 Thank You

33 Contact Information Chee Sung Lee Assistant Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, International Monetary Fund, Tokyo, Japan Telephone: Jens Reinke Economist, Statistics Department, International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C , U.S.A. Telephone:

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