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Remittance flows into India from UAE and other Gulf countries hit a bump as businesses cut down workforces. The south Indian state of Kerala was worst hit as a consequence. (Image used for illustrative purposes.) Image Credit: Photo Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Kochi: Kerala has been hit hard by the drop in remittances from the Gulf countries from where about 1.2 million workers returned to the state due to the COVID-19-driven layoffs, according to the World Bank. Overall, though, the total remittances from Indian workers abroad was $8.3 billion in 2020 - a drop of only 0.2 per cent from the previous year.

India's remittances from the UAE recorded a steep decline of 17 per cent, but it was offset by resilient flows from the US and other countries. India remains the world's top recipient of remittances in total value, a status it reached in 2008.

However, remittances to India are nowhere near the top when it comes to their share of the gross domestic product (GDP). Remittances make up a far more important share of the GDP for smaller countries like Lebanon.

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Deep impact on fund flows

The exodus of foreign workers from the Gulf last year hit Kerala hard. The World Bank said that in "Kerala, an estimated 1.2 million migrant workers, out of more than 4 million who worked in the GCC countries and contributed 30 per cent of the state's income, returned in 2020 after the global pandemic left them jobless."

In that state the monthly remittances to families receiving them fell on average by $267, the brief said. The brief listed the US as the largest source of remittances, followed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.