While the significance of the foreign-exchange earnings by Indonesian overseas workers is being downplayed, there is optimism that such numbers will continue to rise, should there be more opportunities of employment for many Indonesians seeking jobs in nearby countries.
The escalating wage gap between Indonesia and neighboring countries has prompted many young Indonesian workers to seek jobs abroad.
The almost four million laborers working overseas, in neighboring countries like Malaysia and Singapore, sent home $6.7 billion in remittances to Indonesia last year, about the same value as they did in 2010.
Still, that was more than five times the value of the $1 billion recorded more than a decade ago, according to data from Bank Indonesia, the central bank.
Remittances by migrant workers currently account for only around 1 percent of Indonesia’s gross domestic product, small in comparison to the 10 percent contribution for the Philippines.
Money sent home by Indonesian overseas workers contributed to the nation’s balance of payment, which is a broad measure of transactions including exports, imports and investments.
Indonesia’s total balance of payment was valued at $11.8 billion last year, including the $6.7 billion in remittances from overseas.
Currently, 62 percent of the four million workers overseas are employed in Asian countries and cities, particularly Malaysia and Hong Kong. Around 37 percent work in Africa and the Middle East — particularly Saudi Arabia — while the remainder are in North America, Europe and Australia.
Indonesian migrant workers sent a total of $1.7 billion in the first three months this year, up 2 percent from $1.67 billion in the same period in 2010, according to data from Bank Indonesia, the central bank.
Workers across the Asian region accounted for 57 percent of that total. Laborers in the Middle East and Africa were the second-largest contributors, sending 40 percent of the total, while those in North America and Europe made a much smaller contribution, at 3 percent
About 96,000 Indonesians were working overseas during the first quarter, compared with 118,000 in the October-December period last year.
If numbers count, remittances sent by the bulk of many Indonesian laborers were slightly lower than the $8 billion that came from 7.6 million foreign tourists who visited Indonesia last year. Dion Bisara