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Falling Money Transfers Hit Kyrgyz Households

A recent banking conference in Bishkek discussed the impact of falling workers’ remittances on the Kyrgyz economy.
Large numbers of Kyrgyzstan nationals work abroad, often in Russia, where they earn enough to support households back home. The September 23-25 banking conference took place in a country that takes fourth place in the world for migrant remittances as a proportion of gross domestic product.

Much of the money goes to rural areas where it plays a major role in keeping families afloat, especially in the poorer south of Kyrgyzstan

Janar Akaev interviewed Arzybek, a man in his fifties whose three adult children earned enough to build and equip a small home for him and his wife in the suburbs of the southern city of Osh.

“They used to send at least 1,000 dollars a month home,” said Arzybek. “But two of my three kids have had to come back from Russia because of the redundancies there.”

He said that his fridge used to be full, but now he has switched it off; and the phone company has cut off his connection although he used to be able to pay the bills six months in advance.

“God alone knows when this crisis will end,” he said.

Nurjamal Sarykova, head of the Osh branch of DosCredobank, acknowledged that money transfers were down but suggested that things might be beginning to improve.

“The volume of money transfers fell to 40 per cent [of previous average] from the beginning of the year to May or June. But since August, it’s started rising again,” she said.

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