Fall-off in overseas remittances to Suriname

  • October 25, 2012

According to a survey conducted by the Dutch central bank DNB, in 2009 no less than 198 million euros were remitted from The Netherlands alone. However, according to the recently released Financial Note 13, in 2011 the combined remittances by Surinamese people living in the Netherlands, the USA and the Netherlands Antilles totalled only US$159.4 million.

According to media reports, fiscal jurist Robby Makka has attributed the decline in remittances from The Netherlands to the eurocrisis, unemployment among Surinamese people in The Netherlands, and the lack of a clear diaspora policy in Suriname.

Meanwhile, the increase of foreign investments and the associated growth of expatriates in Suriname have resulted in more money being sent out of the country. The Financial Note 13 stated that in 2011 a total of US$72.1 million was remitted from Suriname to foreign countries; this amount includes money expats sent back home to China, Brazil and the USA, and financial aid parents sent to their children studying abroad.

Makka noted that this phenomenon is burdening the exchange rate for foreign currency in Suriname; people exchange the Suriname dollars (SRD) they earn for US dollars, which they then send abroad. This increases the demand for the American currency.

He suggested that Suriname could sign covenants for border controls with countries, which would allow foreigners to transfer the currency to Suriname’s Central Bank and the money would be returned through the recipient country’s central bank. Makka said this arrangement would not only be transparent, but the exchange would take place based on the official exchange rates.

Last August parliamentarian Rabin Parmessar urged a change in the regulation that forbids that cambio’s (money exchange companies) offer overseas money transfer services. Parmessar said then that because people cannot send money at the cambio’s, a hidden route is created from the cambio’s to the Western Union type companies that are allowed to offer these services. Allowing cambio’s to send money abroad would create transparency and bring a halt to unfaircompetition between the cambio’s and the money transfer companies, the parliamentarian said. “Cambio’s fall under the bank law, so they should be allowed to offer both services at one location,” said Parmessar. This is however forbidden by the Central Bank.