Migrants and the development of a legal framework
Elena Y. Sadovskaya (Almaty, Kazakhstan) [BIO]
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International labor migration has been rapidly growing in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan throughout the 2000s. Up to 25-30% of the economically active population are labor migrants in such countries as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Central Asia is currently emerging as a regional migration subsystem, a part of a larger post-Soviet migration system, wherein Kazakhstan is a country receiving labor migrants, and other countries of the region – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – are "sending" countries.
Research on labor immigration about Kazakhstan, conducted by the author in 2005-2006, revealed that labor migration and remittances have become one of social strategies for survival of migrants' households in Central Asia. Remittances flows increased steadily for the last five years, and improvement in living standards of migrants' households is the most obvious positive effect of remittances, however they are rarely used for starting small or medium business, and investing into community re/construction or other local social and economic needs.
The size of the remittances is equivalent to a considerable part of GDP in some republics of Central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The contribution is about 25% in Kyrgyzstan, and between 23,2% (through official channels) and up to 45% (including unofficial' channels) in Tajikistan. In 2004-2005 the amount of remittances exceeded the annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Central Asian countries.
Remittances serve as an important contribution to reducing poverty inthe sending countries such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, with poverty rates at 44,4% and 60% respectively at the beginning of 2000s, according to UNDP. They play a positive sociopolitical role, contributing stability in the communities in the countries of origin and destination and in the region as a whole.
As migrant remittances constitute a considerable share of the GDP, the governments of the sending countries should develop a system of efficient use of remittances for the development of not only migrants' households, but also local communities and national economy as a whole. The development of a legal framework and practical mechanisms that would encourage the migrants to use the remittances for development is a new and important direction of activities for legal and executive bodies in the Central Asian countries.