Economic Growth of Bangladesh Survives on the Remittance Sent by Expatriates

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More than 160 million people live in the country Bangladesh having an area of 1, 47,570 square kilometers. Because of the pressure of huge population, earning livelihood would be very tough here. But that didn’t happen. One of the most prominent causes behind this is manpower exporting and remittance sent by expatriates. 

After 5 years of independence, manpower export started from this country in 1976. About 6-7 thousand Bangladeshi workers were sent to some of the Middle East countries for the first time in that year. A new source of earning foreign currency, foreign remittance, emerged. After that the amount of foreign remittance has swelled up in these years. 

In the very first year the amount of income in this sector was TK 360 million. In the next year the amount rose to TK 1 billion. In the last four decades the amount of income from foreign remittance stood to Tk 1072.94 billion. The impact of foreign remittance kept the wheel of national economy in motion which has made the foreign currency reserve stronger.

Eminent economist Md. Mustafizur Rahman said, Remittance sent by migrant workers has not only been making their families solvent but also it has been helping country’s economy to stand on a stronger foundation.  

He added, ‘We will go through demographic dividend for the next 25-30 years. The number of migrant workers will increase. We will have to create opportunities for the workers. We will also have to think whether we are being able to send them to other countries with the necessary efficiency and skills.’ 

From 1976 to 2016, in these 41 years, more than 13 million workers went to different countries. Highest number of workers went to Saudi Arabia. UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, and Malaysia constitute the main labour market of Bangladeshi migrant workers. Besides, Bangladeshi workers have been working in some developed countries including UK, Japan, and Italy. But the number of workers working in developed countries is not much.

Manpower export is one of the major driving forces of Bangladesh’s economy. Bangladeshi migrant workers sent foreign currency amounting more than TK 11 hundred and 25 thousand crore in the last 42 years. 

Bangladesh recorded its highest remittance inflow in 2015. In the year the amount of remittance inflow was $15.31b. The country’s economy has come to a strong position with the foreign currency which has been set by the migrant workers. 

Former governor of Bangladesh Bank Saleh Uddin Ahmed Said, ‘With the remittance sent by the Bangladeshi expatriates, Bangladesh has broken all the records of its foreign currency reserve. When the world economy is clumsy, even then Bangladesh is going towards economic prosperity.’ 

He also said, ‘We are getting this big reserve only because of the huge migrant workers’ contribution. In face the net earning we get from the migrant workers is the highest. In case of exports, what we earn we need to spend a lot too for back to back LC. But in terms of net income migrant workers have most contribution in foreign reserve.’  

In contrast to the record in the expatriate income, infirmity in manpower export has created a mixed situation in the recent years. Although the talks regarding sending 7 million workers to Malaysia have been moving around, the progress is very slow. Besides, Hong Kong, South Korea and Saudi Arabia expressed their wish to recruit female workers from Bangladesh. But the process has stopped for unknown reasons. Although UAE is the second largest labour market for Bangladeshi workers, manpower export to UAE has been stopped for more than a decade.

The government must ensure the sending of the workers to Malaysia. They will have to strengthen the diplomatic activities to open the manpower export in the Middle East countries. Besides, the proposals of taking workers from Bangladesh by countries including Japan, Italy, Brazil and a few African countries will have to be considered with great importance. The experts think that these steps will again speed up the manpower export sector of the country. 

Golam Mourtoza(pen name G M Mourtoza) is a Bangladeshi media activist based in Rajshahi where he has worked for several print, electronic and online media outlet. Email him at [email protected]

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