Rupee slump may boost remittances to a record high of $76 billion in 2018

Lured by the sharp slump in rupee against the dollar, Indians living overseas may boost remittances to a record, helping bolster the nation’s efforts to support Asia’s worst-performing major currency.

The country is expected to receive remittances of about $76 billion in 2018, 10 percent more than in the previous year, according to estimates by EbixCash, the financial exchange unit of US-based insurance software provider Ebix Inc. About three-fourth of the inflows come via Ebix’s outlets, the company said.

Flows from an estimated 20 million nationals working abroad will help bolster India’s efforts to cap the nation’s current-account deficit. Without remittances, the gap would have been about five percent of gross domestic product at mid-year, instead of two percent, according to Capital Economics.

“When rupee depreciates so sharply, inbound sources of money get active,” Hariprasad M P, head of treasury at EbixCash, said in an interview on Wednesday. “These inflows are important for the economy at this juncture.”

A global emerging-market sell-off that’s triggered outflows from Indian bonds and stocks saw the rupee setting a string of fresh lows earlier this month. Likely intervention by the Reserve Bank of India in the forex market, a drop in prices of oil -- the nation’s top import -- and easing of rules on overseas borrowings have helped steady the rupee off late.

The rupee rose 0.6 per cent to 73.1550 per dollar on Wednesday. The currency has gained 1.8 per cent since falling to a record 74.4825 on Oct. 11.

“At the moment, we don’t see downside risk for the rupee at least till December,” said Hariprasad. “It is unlikely to run toward 75 in the near-to-medium term.”

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