Jamaica’s second-highest foreign-exchange earner, remittances, could suffer a massive blow this year owing to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on jurisdictions overseas with large diaspora communities.
Signs of a downward trajectory have already emerged, with at least two local remittance companies reporting declines in inflows that have been triggered by lockdowns and job losses in key markets from which remittances flow.
Remittances pulled in US$2.4 billion for the calendar year January to December 2019.
Yesterday, Bank of Jamaica Governor Richard Byles indicated that the Jamaican economy was expected to suffer a huge hit by COVID-19, contracting by about three per cent for the year.
Horace Hines, general manager of Jamaica National (JN) Money Services, told The Gleaner yesterday that the company has already experienced an estimated 25 per cent reduction over the last week and a half as restrictions took effect in New York, The Cayman Islands, and the United Kingdom.
At the same time, Don Wehby, group chief executive officer of GraceKennedy, said that the company’s remittance services’ inbound transaction count has dipped by between five and 10 per cent. However, he said that the company’s digital transactions had increased by close to 20 per cent.