Thursday 30 June 2011

Money Transfer vs Money Laundering?

Money Transfer vs Money Laundering?

I am going to be really mean today. Not sure if you have already formed your opinion about me, I am a real patriotic, I love my country (wherever I am living is my country) and would like it to be the best of all others. I keep on noticing things that needs improvements, and keep on writing about those things, of course to no one in particular, but who really cares; just having your voice rattling in the universe is sufficient I guess.

Yesterday I was transferring my annual subscription to my society, and also paying my Egyptian translator, few pennies though, had to be in the queue in western union for hours. The place was full of those poor laborers, who got their wages and are transferring it to their loved ones who are living on their own, and of course in their minds wishing that those pennies are a replacement for love. I was feeling real sorry for them, working in the heat, living in substandard accommodation, eating cold food that is provided by their greedy contractors, and I am sure that a lot of their wages were first paid to their recruiters to cover the loans they had to make to be able to come here for work.
I belong to a Facebook group that gathers during the afternoons to provide cold water to the laborers, as they have to be on site building those high-rises nonstop. You must have heard of the horror stories about laborers committing suicide as they realized that they need to work for two years just to cover the loans taken to come to this country ( and all other gulf countries) or those that were put in prison for child molestation in lefts and what not. On a daily basis there are stories about those laborers, it provides a fantastic meal to journalists. Which is why this is not really the crunch of my thoughts.

80% of the population in the UAE is made up of laborers or people brought over to work; most of them are paid in the range of $200-$600. They are also fed, boarded, transported back and forth to their accommodation, and their tickets are paid for. During their weekend (if they have any that is) they all congregate in parks, malls, mosques, or just wonder around in the streets. They do not have to spend anything during their days off. if our population is 4 million, then 80% is 3.2 million are laborers. think of it this way, that money is taken from us the 0.8 million, and given to those laborers who send it home, the rest of the money is stashed into Swiss bank accounts; no wonder we never recovered from the economic crisis, as the money is not flowing inside the country, we make the money by working 16-18 hours a day, then we pay it out to whoever we have to pay the money to, and that money goes out of the country? Where is the wealth? Who is having it? Are we helping underdeveloped countries to grow meaner to its people, or are we helping those families to live? What are we really doing?

I have a feeling that this scheme is similar if not worse than money laundering, maybe we do not need to build those high rises, if we do not build we do not have to spend all that money? What is going to happen if we just live happily in smaller houses and have money left in our bank accounts at the end of the month? Would we need to have those complicated road systems? Or there sophisticated banks and exchange houses? Do we need to have those huge shopping malls? Do we need to have humongous supermarkets where we shop, while the laborers look at us in dismay?

Just food for thought coming from a simple woman on her holiday day, who wasted 3 hours just to send few dollars abroad.

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