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Learning English - Words in the News
21 March, 2007 - Published 13:47 GMT
Latin American migrant money
American dollars

The amount of money sent home by migrant workers to their families in Latin America has reached more than $62bn. According to the Inter-American Investment Bank, the figure could reach $100bn in four years' time. This report from Duncan Kennedy:

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Money from migrant workers now exceeds the combined total of all direct foreign investment and foreign aid to Latin America - sixty-two-point-three billion dollars. Twenty-three billion dollars of that was sent back to Mexico, mostly from workers living in the United States. It now ranks along with oil and tourism as Mexico's biggest foreign currency earner.

The Inter-American Development Bank, which supports the region with aid and other help, says the remittances, as they're known, will increase by about fifteen percent a year during the next four years, topping one-hundred billion dollars by 2010. The bank describes the money as a very effective poverty reduction programme because it keeps between eight and ten million families above the poverty line. But it says it also means the economies of the region are not generating enough jobs to keep workers from leaving in the first place.

Another problem is that as much of the money is sent back in small amounts, it's difficult to track. The average is between a hundred and a hundred-and-fifty dollars a month. That in turn makes it an unpredictable source of revenue for governments to tap into. The bank says it wants people to get away from what it calls cash to cash flows and into account to account transfers but the bank says the recent crackdown on illegal immigrants by the American authorities could hinder efforts to get migrants to use banks.

Duncan Kennedy, BBC, Mexico City

Listen to the words

migrant workers
people who go to another country to find employment

foreign aid
help, often financial, which is given to poorer countries by richer countries

foreign currency
money used in other countries

the amount of money which is sent somewhere, usually to pay for something

becoming larger or more than something

to track
to follow the progress of something

source of revenue
something that produces money, usually for a business or government

to tap into
to use or take from a resource

account transfers
the electronic movement of money from one bank account to another

to make something more difficult to do

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