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Haiti - Social : Money transfers expensive
16/08/2011 15:06:50

Haiti - Social : Money transfers expensive
The majority of the Haitian community, living illegally in the Bahamas [estimated to over 20.000], said to make use of the "informal services" to transfer money to family members remained in Haiti.

Harvey Morris, the Chief Executive Officer of Omni Money Transfer, to the Bahamas, explains that irregular migrants, avoid official channels, such as banks and mainstream money-transfer companies because they need valid identification paper to make a transfer.

According to several sources in the industry, the volume of money transfers is considerable in the illegal population in direction of Haiti "We got a report from the Inter-American Development Bank in 2009, saying $66 million was sent to Haiti from The Bahamas [...] one-third of that may have gone through the legal system and two-thirds [more than 40 million] went through the illegal system..." explains Harvey Morris, the Chief Executive Officer of Omni Money Transfer

The money is collected by a person who will complete the transaction for the illegal migrant in a legal institution [such as Western Union or Omni ...] or the person proposes to transport the money to Haiti during a trip...

On this parallel transfer market, intermediaries typically charge 20% of the amount to send explains Christoph Fox, operations manager at Omni, noting that most Haitians living illegally, have little choice and most are willing to pay to remain unseen.

In response to the rise of unauthorized money transfers, however, the transfer companies have approached the Central Bank with proposals to relax some of the regulations controlling how money is sent in and out of the Bahamas. as is currently done in the US, where senders transferring funds to Mexico under a certain limit are not required to present identification. However, according to Morris, the Central Bank has been very reluctant to change its policy.

In addition to paying very high fees, Haitians are often victims of unscrupulous intermediaries who propose to hand directly the money to their families and who disappears with the money entrusted... The Haitian victims of these bandits, can not complain to the police because they are in a irregular situation. "Everybody is taking advantage of Haitians here" deplores Morris, who hopes a change in the legislation to improve the situation [commercial or social...?]

HL/ HaitiLibre

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