Remittances up and up
Much to the relief to Nepal’s beleaguered economy, remittances from Nepalis abroad soared 25% to $5.5 billion (Rs733 billion) from July 2023 – January 2024. Although some of the rupee value of the increase can be attributed to a stronger US dollar, the inflow represents a 1% increase in the six months of 2022-23 over the same period the previous year. But even in US dollar terms, the increase in the review period till January 2024 was 22% higher than the previous year. In the six months, nearly 210,000 Nepalis left for foreign employment for the first time, while 135,000 were repeats. This figure does not include those leaving on student visas. The increase in remittances has boosted Nepal’s foreign exchange reserves to nearly $13.7billion in January, up nearly 17% last year and enough to finance nearly 15 months of imports. Imports of petroleum products has declined, and experts attribute this to a shift to battery-powered vehicles and out-migration.