Worldwide remittances from workers outside their own countries will exceed 700 billion dollars by 2016, the World Bank said Wednesday. The Washington-based international development lender estimated remittances to reach 550 billion dollars this year. Flows of money from workers to their home countries are economic pillars in many developing and emerging countries. The World Bank estimated remittances to developing countries alone would grow 6.3 per cent this year to 414 billion dollars, reaching 540 billion dollars by 2016. Remittances can be a "major counter-balance" when other capital flows weaken or currencies devalue, World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu said. India is the top recipient of officially recorded remittances at an estimated 71 billion dollars this year, nearly triple its foreign direct investment. China was at 60 billion dollars, followed by the Philippines (26 billion dollars), Mexico (22 billion dollars), Nigeria (21 billion dollars) and Egypt (20 billion dollars), dpa reported. In 2012, remittances made up 48 per cent of Tajikistan's gross domestic product, the highest rate in the world. The Kyrgyz Republic was at 31 per cent, followed by Lesotho and Nepal at 25 per cent each and Moldova at 24 per cent. "These latest estimates show the power of remittances," World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu said. "For a country like Tajikistan they constitute half the GDP." Remittance growth has been robust worldwide except in Latin America, largely because immigration from Mexico into the United States has been flat since the 2007-2009 US recession. "Remittances are the most tangible and least controversial link between migration and development," said Dilip Ratha, manager of the World Bank's migration and remittances team. "Policymakers can do much more to maximize the positive impact of remittances by making them less costly and more productive for both the individual and the recipient country.