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Moldova Reports Drop In Remittances

CHISINAU -- Moldovan authorities have acknowledged for the first time that one of the country's main income sources, remittances, is beginning to weaken, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The National Bank said Moldovans abroad sent home about $65 million in January, down 27 percent from January 2008.

Despite the decrease, the state news agency Moldpress said the figures "are proof that despite the economic downturn abroad, Moldovans have managed to keep their jobs and to send money."

The Finance Ministry recently predicted that remittances this year would be the same or slightly lower than in 2008. But independent analysts expect a substantial drop in remittances, and say that could usher in the end of Moldova's relative immunity to the global downturn.

Moldova's ruling Communist Party, which faces general elections in April, has so far denied that the global crisis is having any serious impact on the country's economy.

Moldova is among the top five countries in the world in terms of remittances per capita. Last year, remittances coming mainly from Russia, Spain, and Italy hit a record high of $1.7 billion, which was 30 percent of Moldova's GDP.