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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

Indians in UAE rush to send money home as rupee slumps 

Many Indian expatriates said the slump in rupee doesn't offset the rising cost of living back home

Ahalia Exchange in Bur Dubai. Indians have been remitting money all week as the rupee slumped to an all-time low against the US dollar. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Ahalia Exchange in Bur Dubai. Indians have been remitting money all week as the rupee slumped to an all-time low against the US dollar. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Expatriates were rushing to send money home to their families on Friday as the Indian rupee slumped to an all-time low against the dollar.

Exchange houses said remittances had increased during the week as people hurried to ensure they benefit from lower value of the rupee.

“We have got many queries from people who want to send money to India," said Rejin Poonaktil, the branch in-charge at Al Ahalia Exchange in Deira.

"Many of our customers are from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Some customers have taken loans in India and are using this opportunity to send money to India. Someone sent Dh268,233 rupees to India yesterday."

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Mr Poonaktil said he expects customers round the clock, with a rush in the evenings and mornings.

Another exchange house said some big businessmen were transferring vast amounts ranging between Dh500,000-Dh600,000.

A year ago, if you were to transfer Dh100 from UAE to India, you would have got an average of 1,751 rupees a year ago compared to 1,865 rupees today.

Other exchange houses predict the rupee will tumble further.

“There is an increase in remittances but people are expecting that the rupee will fall further. People are expecting that they will get 19-20 rupees for every dirham,” said another official at a money exchange in Dubai.

However, some customers say the drop in value will not offset the rising cost of living back home.

Indian expatriates can get about 18.6 rupees for every dirham compared to about 17.5 a year ago. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Indian expatriates can get about 18.6 rupees for every dirham compared to about 17.5 a year ago. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Rajinder Pal, a mechanic in Dubai was in Bur Dubai to remit money to his family of ten.

“The lower rupee does benefit us a little but the difference is not significant," he said.

"We send money home every month. This time I got Rs18.68 for every dirham. India has also become very expensive and I have ten people at home to take care of.”

Ashwani Kumar sent money home to Punjab recently.

“Now we get more rupees for our dirhams but India has simultaneously become very expensive," he said. "The lower value of rupee does help but it can’t keep pace with the rising expenses.

"Oil had become so expensive in India. Even if we send Dh1,000 and my family gets nearly 19,000 rupees it still isn’t enough to cover expenses."

Some residents predict the rupee to tumble further. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Some residents predict the rupee to tumble further. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Bipin Mistry also remitted money to India.

“People who have come here to work will naturally send money home as their families are back in India," he said. "My family is in Gujarat and I sent money home. I usually send between Dh1,000-1,700 to India [a month]," he said.

The rupee slid to an all-time low against the dollar on Thursday, past its previous record of 68.8650, reached in November 2016.

Bloomberg reported that the slump is due to “a resurgence in crude prices and the emerging-market sell-off took a toll on the currency of the world’s third-biggest oil consumer".