Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Pakistan as the Chair of the Colombo Process Thematic Area Working Group (TAWG) on Remittances convened the Fourth Meeting of the TAWG on 25 July 2018 in Manila, Philippines.The meeting followed the Fourth Meeting of the TAWG on Pre-Departure Orientation and Empowerment (PDOE), which was hosted by the Philippines on the previous day, with the participation of the same representatives from all twelve Member States of the Colombo Process so as to build synergies between the two thematic areas.

Under the primary objective to provide a platform for in-depth discussions on the issues salient to the TAWG on Remittances, the Fourth Meeting gathered 54 participants, including the Member State delegates and a representative from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), as well as a rich array of resource persons from central banks of Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines, international organizations including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank Group, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the private sector representatives. The meeting also provided an avenue for the participants to discuss how the Colombo Process under TAWG on Remittances could contribute to the Remittance-related objective of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), which will be adopted at the Intergovernmental Conference in December 2018.

Mr. Noor Zaman, Senior Joint Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Pakistani and Human Resource Development, representing the Government of Pakistan as the TAWG Remittances Chair, highlighted in his introductory remarks that the TAWG Remittances has been successful in providing an active platform for the Member States to share their best practices in the field of remittances, which would bring transparency and efficiency to the remittance cycle. He stated that the meeting would play a pivotal role in making further progress towards the TAWG Remittances goals.

The meeting agenda, which was guided by the TAWG goals and the outcomes of the previous TAWG Remittances meetings, covered the following key topics: reducing costs of remittance transfers in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target; improving access to formal remittance channels; and, maximizing the use of remittances beyond household consumption through building financial literacy among migrant workers and families. Discussions from the Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development (GFRID) 2018 was another key agenda item, given Pakistan’s participation in this important global forum as a guest speaker representing the TAWG on Remittances.

The meeting served as an important platform for exchanging updates and innovative initiatives related to remittances. For instance, during the session on GFRID 2018, an IFAD resource person introduced RemitSCOPE, which was launched at GFRID 2018, as a website portal to provide the data and analyses related to the remittances market in Asia. In relation to reducing costs of remittance transfers, a resource person from the State Bank of Pakistan explained how the Pakistan Remittance Initiative turned the challenges into key factors for the success and attained the increase of remittances through regular channels by six times over the period of eight years. Regarding the improved access to formal remittance channels, resource persons from the Bank Negara Malaysia and the World Bank Group jointly elaborated on the Greenback Project 2.0 as an innovative initiative to increase efficiency and transparency in the remittance market through conducting various awareness raising programmes on the use of formal remittance services, targeting migrant workers in Malaysia.

The final session of the meeting was dedicated to the discussion on the action points of the GCM Objective 20 “Promote faster, safer and cheaper transfer of remittances and foster financial inclusion of migrants”. Through group and plenary discussions, the participants agreed that the following action points are especially pertinent to the Colombo Process: develop a roadmap to reduce the transaction costs of migrant remittances in line with the SDG target; promote and support the UN International Day of Family Remittances and the GFRID as an important platform to build and strengthen partnerships with all relevant stakeholders; establish conducive policy and regulatory frameworks that promote a competitive and innovative remittance market; and, develop innovative technological solutions for remittance transfer.

The Fourth Meeting of TAWG Remittances was convened within the framework of IOM’s Regional Project “Strengthening Labour Migration Governance through Regional Cooperation in Colombo Process countries”, with funding support from SDC.