Transition economy: how migrant workers help Tajikistan

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Transition economy: how migrant workers help Tajikistan 23.04.2018 15:04

Annually, labor migrants send more than $2 billion in money transfers to Tajikistan

Labor migration from Tajikistan is inevitable, but the fate of guest workers can be alleviated, experts believe.

The issue of labor migrants was discussed within the framework of the Eurasian Integration Forum "Prospects for the Development and Strengthening of the SCO", which takes place on April 17-18 in Sochi.


No longer poor migrants


Money transfers of migrants to their homeland are an important point of Tajik economy, the director of the Tajik research center Shark Muzaffar Olimov is sure.

According to him, in 2017, the budget of Tajikistan received almost two and a half billion dollars, which migrants earned. This amount is about 30% of the gross national product.

"Thanks to the work of compatriots abroad, the level of poverty in Tajikistan fell two and a half times between 1999 and 2017, from 80% to 30%." These rates of poverty reduction are among the fastest in the world", Olimov said.

However, the dependence of the economy on migrants is hampered by local industry. The money coming from the "guest workers" is spent in Tajikistan for basic needs: food, rent, clothes.


The flow of migrants from Tajikistan to Russia is decreasing


As a result, Tajik industries do not develop, their products are replaced by imports, and goods from the republic become uncompetitive. But the northern neighbor of the republic - Kyrgyzstan, invests a part of migrant transfers in small and medium business.


Dependence of Tajikistan's economy on migration


"Of course, I would like the working-age Tajiks to stay at home, but unfortunately they do not have such opportunities now, the influx of our population is high, the average age for Tajikistan is about 24. The image of Tajikistan as a country of migrants has already taken shape. I see no prerequisites for the fact that this image will change in the coming years", the expert said.

According to Olimov, for Tajik migrants there is no alternative to Russia as the host country. Kazakhstan for guest workers from Tajikistan is unattractive - migratory niches there are already occupied by Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.


How do registration terms for migration affect Tajikistan?


Aza Migranyan, head of the Economic Studies Department of the Institute of CIS Countries, called another reason for the orientation of migrants to work in Russia:

"The main criterion by which the directions of migration flows are formed is the income gap between countries, the larger the gap, the greater the flow. Now the Russian market gives the biggest difference in wages in comparison with the CIS countries, which means that Russia is the center for migrants ".

Russia, in turn, is also interested in the flow of migrants, said Anastasia Gayeva, deputy head of the Department for Diaspora and Migration of the Institute of CIS countries. She referred to the demographic projection: the population of Russia in the coming period will be intensively reduced, and migration can smooth out this situation.

There is no migrants’ lobby


All experts agreed: guest workers from the countries participating in the Eurasian Economic Union abroad work more easily. According to Gayeva, membership in the EAEU enabled Kyrgyzstan to reorient part of the migration flow from Russia to Kazakhstan, and, consequently, to open new labor markets.

"The accession of donor countries to the EAEU facilitates the employment of migrants in Russia and Kazakhstan, they do not need to register patents, and they have ninety days to find work." Visiting workers from the republics of the Union can study and go on a decree", Gayeva said.

In her opinion, the EAEU helped migrants from the member states of the Union survive the crisis of 2014-2015. Then, migrants from Tajikistan faced large financial losses. It became unprofitable for them to work for rubles; the cost of a patent was incomparable with their earnings, reverse migration began.

Migrants from Kyrgyzstan, on the contrary, began to come to the vacated places. In 2015, at the height of the crisis, the number of Kyrgyz migrants grew by 27% in Russia and amounted to more than five hundred thousand people.

Despite the fact that migration is mutually beneficial for Russia and Tajikistan, the image of the migrant in the public consciousness of Russians is still negative, complains Gayeva: "Everyone understands that labor migration is necessary, but we do not have a pro-emigrant lobby like in Europe. Authorities and society support xenophobic rhetoric, and since the functions of the Migration Service were transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they speak of a migrant in Russia as a threat, but not as a valuable resource".

Timur Selivanov