23 Nov 2011

Big slump in remittances in Tonga prompts World Bank grant

8:25 pm on 23 November 2011

A World Bank economist says Tonga is facing an economic crisis due largely to a dramatic fall in its income from remittances.

The Bank is giving Tonga nine million US dollars because of a surge in poverty which it says has left one in five unable to pay for basics such as utility bills, education and food.

World Bank senior economist, Virginia Horscroft, says Tonga has suffered a series of shocks as a result of the global economic crisis but the worst is the loss of more than a quarter of the value of its remittances from overseas.

"Tonga really bore the brunt of the global crisis because of the very large role that remittances play in the economy. The remittances to GDP in Tonga was higher than any other Pacific Island country and the drop has been very, very sharp."

Virgnia Horscroft.

The grant includes an allowance for the creation of employment through projects in the communities hardest hit by the crisis.