Samoans sending record amounts home

Samoans are sending more money to their families than ever despite the COVID-19-led economic crisis as remittances rose by $7.5 million in August alone in year-on-year terms. 

The 15.9 per cent increase for the month of August alone was revealed in a report issued by the Central Bank of Samoa: ‘Visitor earnings and remittances.’

Total private remittances for August rose by 15.9 per cent or $7.5 million to reach $54.5 million when compared to the same month last year. When compared to the previous month a slight decrease of 0.6 per cent, or $0.9 million, was recorded. 

Largely driving the increase were higher transfers from Australia of some $5.1 million; American Samoa and New Zealand both rose by $1.9 million while unspecified ‘other’ nations also increased by $200,000.

The report also examined the total inflow of private remittances for the first two months of this Financial Year. It found that money sent home by Samoans had increased by 8.8 per cent or $8.9 million to reach $109.4 million when compared to the same time period last year.

Transfers from Australia over the period rose by $11.0 million; those from New Zealand were up $4.3 million; and American Samoa were up $3.5 million.

The increase was partially explained by the depreciation of the Samoan tala when compared to both the American and New Zealand dollars by 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively. 

The monthly share of remittance inflows received through Money Transfer Operators (M.T.O.s) increased to 90.0 per cent from 84.7 per cent in August 2019. Money received directly through commercial banks fell to 10 per cent from 15.3 per cent.

The average monthly cost of sending NZD$200.00 to Samoa, taken in the form of commissions, dropped slightly to 10.72 per cent from 11.29 per cent when compared to the same month the year prior; but the average cost of sending AUD$200.00 increased to 8.70 per cent from 8.49 per cent over the year

Families and households were the foremost categories of recipients; their receipt of foreign money expanded by $12.8 million.

The report also reflects the complete flatlining of Samoa’s tourism industry since its international borders were closed and the tourism trade all but collapsed. 

The Tourism Price Index fell sharply by 18.7 per cent over the year as a result of the significant reduction in the ‘Accommodation’ sub-index as most hotels have temporarily closed or have significantly reduced their standard room prices. 

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