The Jakarta Post
Despite death threats, torture and inhumane conditions, millions of Indonesian migrant workers remitted last year a record high of US$8.55 billion back to their families from overseas, the World Bank said in a recent report.
The amount, the World Bank said, was almost equivalent to 0.9 percent of Indonesia's total gross domestic product (GDP).
The total value of remittances through official channels by around 6 million Indonesian workers in 2014 was much higher than the $7.61 billion recorded in 2013. In 2005, they remitted $5.42 billion, a huge jump from a mere of $1.86 billion in 2004.
Like in previous years, Indonesia kept its position as the third-largest recipient of remittances in Southeast Asia after the Philippines and Vietnam, the bank said.
According to the recently released World Bank Migration and Development Brief, the Philippines was the top receiver of remittances in Southeast Asia.
Thanks to its highly qualified workforce, the Philippines also shined globally. Its 12 million workers remitted $28.40 billion back home last year, making it the third biggest in the world after India and China, the world's two most populous nations.
It is estimated that there are more than 245 million migrant workers worldwide and they regularly remit billions of dollars back to their families. The World Bank has some new ideas about how to use this huge amount of funds.
'Total remittances in 2014 reached $583 billion. This is more than double the ODA [Official Development Assistance] in the world. India received $70 billion, China $60 billion and the Philippines $28 billion,' said Kaushik Basu, World Bank chief economist and senior vice president, in a statement.
'With new thinking, these mega flows can be leveraged to finance development and infrastructure projects.'
Vietnam, the rising star of Southeast Asia, which received $12 billion in remittances according to the report, was ranked second in the region and ninth in the world.
The report said that migrant workers from developing countries remitted a record $436 billion last year, up from $404 billion in 2013.
Meanwhile, 10 nations in Southeast Asia received $56.75 billion last year.
More than half of Indonesia's 6 million migrant workers currently work in only two countries ' Malaysia and Saudi Arabia ' both legally and illegally. The other countries are Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Most of the workers are undereducated women who work as housemaids or as agricultural or factory workers.
Indonesian workers in Taiwan and South Korea may receive higher wages than in other countries.
'We have 220,000 Indonesian workers working in Taiwan. They are getting on average more than $700 per month,' Taipei Economic and Trade Office's director for press information division Tseng Wei-ming told The Jakarta Post recently. (++++)