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Ukrainian immigrants may send $9 billion home in 2018, central bank says

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainians working abroad are expected to send around $9 billion home this year, about the same as last year, the central bank said on Wednesday.

The number of Ukrainians working outside Ukraine has risen in recent years as the economy weakened, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and a separatist revolt in industrial eastern regions, backed by Russia.

The central bank has recalculated remittance figures for 2015-2017 and said $2 billion more was sent home each year than previously thought. The new totals are $9.3 billion in 2017, $7.5 billion in 2016 and $7 billion in 2015.

This year’s expected remittances are considerable for Ukraine, amounting to more than the $8.4 billion it has received so far from the International Monetary Fund under a reforms-for-aid program agreed in 2015.

In February, the central bank said around 2.2 million Ukrainians were working abroad, equivalent to 8 percent of the working population. It warned that the depletion of Ukraine’s workforce may accelerate, undermining Ukraine’s economic recovery.

The number of Ukrainians working abroad has cut into revenue for Ukraine’s pension system, which is burdened with a large deficit - the equivalent of around 5 percent of gross domestic product in 2017.

Writing by Alessandra Prentice, editing by Larry King