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Czechs working abroad sent home USD 2.5 billion in 2014

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Prague, June 18 (CTK) – Czechs working abroad sent 2.54 billion dollars (61 billion crowns) to their homeland in 2014, which is about one billion crowns more than the Czech Republic received from the European structural funds in the same year, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes Thursday.

This has been the record high sum, according to the World Bank data available from 1993. The volume of finances sent home by expatriates has been permanently increasing every year, with only two exceptions – in 2009 and 2012, due to the economic crisis.

Czech economy has few income resources that have been steadily growing, yet politics do not mention the remittance from expatriates in their economic forecasts, the paper says.

The financial sums sent home by expatriates last year provide information about Czech communities around the world, LN writes.

The highest sum was sent from Germany (an equivalent of 720 million dollars), followed by Slovakia (399) and the United States (323). A high number of Czechs worked in the neighbouring Austria (204 million dollars), Britain (197), Canada (124), Australia (73) and Switzerland (70).

The Word Bank data for 2014 show that Czechs worked in exotic destinations such as Indonesia, Qatar, Tajikistan and Yemen.

But the finances from the Czechs working abroad cannot be considered a reliable income because the figures are nothing but qualified estimates. Moreover, the data depend on the methods applied, which is the reason why the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) released figures two times lower than those of the World Bank, LN writes.

“The World Bank includes in the remittances also the salaries of workers from the given country who stay abroad for a short time. The CSU presents this group separately,” Martina Simkova, from CSU, told the paper.

Another problem is that the exact numbers of Czech expatriates in foreign countries outside the European Union are not known. As a result, it is estimated that from 200,000 to 350,000 Czechs stay abroad.

The CSU estimate is based on the clients of Czech health insurance companies who interrupted their insurance payments because they stayed abroad.

But Czechs who leave abroad for only several months often do not stop paying their insurance and those who are illegally employed in the United States do not do so either, Simkova said.

It is estimated that tens of thousands of Czechs work in the USA, although their visas expired, the paper writes.

The finances sent home by expatriates indicate that the Czech Republic is a country on a level between the rich West and the poorer East, LN says.

This remittance accounts for 1.1 percent of the Czech gross domestic product. In Slovakia it is two times more, and in Hungary, with over one million of expatriates, three times more.

In a similar way, foreigners who work in the Czech Republic send money to their home countries.

Nearly half of the whole sum of 2.05 billion dollars ends up in Slovakia (1012 million dollars), followed by Vietnam (209) and Ukraine (188).

However, foreigners from Western Europe form a strong group as well, dominated by Germans (63 million dollars), the French (61) and Austrians (27).

According to the CSU estimate, about 20 percent of the incomes of approximately half a million foreigners living the Czech Republic is sent abroad.

A survey from 2012, by a team from Prague’s Charles University, concluded that Ukrainians based in the country sent home 51,000 crowns a year on average, LN writes.

Official statistics can hardly track these savings for the families and relatives in Ukraine because Ukrainians do not trust bank transfers and most of the money is handed over in cash.

The team’s head Dusan Drbohlav said the money sent to Ukraine helped the families make ends meet.

“In this way, many Ukrainian families secure at least their basic needs in an otherwise very low living standard,” Drbohlav told the paper.

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