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Remittances from expatriates to Lebanon are expected to increase slightly in 2016, according to the World Bank. In a report on capital inflows published Sunday, the World Bank projected that remittances from expatriates will reach $7.6 billion in 2016 compared to $7.48 billion in 2015, registering an increase of 1.6 percent.

The World Bank revised upward its estimates for remittances and inflows to Lebanon from the earlier projections in 2015.

Remittances and capital inflows is seen as one of the few remaining elements that keep the struggling Lebanese economy on its feet.

The World Bank also lowered its estimate for 2013 remittance inflows to the country to $7.57 billion from $8.08 billion.

“Lebanon is expected to post the 10th highest growth rate in remittance inflows among the 15 largest recipients of remittances in developing economies this year. In comparison, the World Bank forecast remittance inflows to developing countries to grow by 0.8 percent, those to Arab countries to increase by 1.5 percent and inflows to upper middle-income countries (UMICs) to rise by 3.3 percent in 2016,” the report said.

Nassib Ghobril, chief economist at the Byblos Bank Group, noted that “despite the numerous predictions and multiple warnings about the decline in remittance inflows to Lebanon from the drop in global oil prices, Lebanese expatriates continue to send money home at a stable and steady pace.” But he cautioned that “there is no vision or concrete strategy in place to maintain and strengthen the links between the Lebanese diaspora and Lebanon, especially that the general approach towards Lebanese expatriates consists of treating them like a bank account.”

The World Bank said Lebanon would be the16th-largest recipient of remittances globally and the eleventh-largest recipient among developing economies in 2016.

“Also, it would be the third-largest recipient of remittances among 49 UMICs after China ($65.2 billion) and Mexico ($28.1 billion), and the second-largest among 16 Arab countries, following Egypt ($18.4 billion). Globally, Lebanon would receive fewer remittances than Spain ($10.08 billion), Indonesia ($9.84 billion) and Italy ($9.49 billion), and more remittances than Guatemala ($7.49 billion), Morocco ($7.28 billion) and Sri Lanka ($7.1 billion),” the report said.

“Remittance inflows to Lebanon would account for 1.3 percent of the global inflow of remittances in 2016, unchanged from the preceding year and relative to a share of 1.2 percent in 2014. They would represent 1.7 percent of aggregate remittances to developing economies this year, unchanged from the previous year and relative to 1.6 percent in 2014,” the report said.

The World Bank projects remittances to represent 14.7 percent of Lebanese GDP in 2016.

Source: The Daily Star