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Funds Sent Home to Mexico Likely to Rise

Finances: Remittances reached $8.9 billion last year and could increase 10% to 20%, council says.

September 16, 2002|From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Money sent to Mexico by relatives in the United States is likely to increase 10% to 20% this year, and hundreds of thousands of families depend heavily on the funds, the government Population Council said Sunday.

The council said remittances reached $8.9 billion last year--nearly $24.4 million a day. That was an increase of 35.3% from the figure for 2000.

Other Mexican agencies have estimated that remittances surpassed $9 billion last year. Calculations are difficult and vary because many funds never pass through banks. It's also hard to distinguish some transfers from tourism spending.

The council did not give figures for the amount sent home so far this year. It said about 1.2 million Mexican homes, about one in five, now receive remittances from relatives in the United States. The council said most of those families have "a high level of dependence on dollars from abroad."

The population council said Mexico's economic crisis of 1994-95 stimulated migration to the United States. Before the December 1994 plunge of the Mexican peso, fewer than 700,000 families depended on regular remittances from abroad.

It said remittances have been rising sharply since 1996, when they reached $4.2 billion.

The government of President Vicente Fox, elected in 2000, has been campaigning to channel more remittances into investments and to persuade banks and exchange houses to lower transfer fees and make remittances easier.

The Population Council is a government agency that uses census and other data to study population and economic trends.

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