The Daily Star, 05 January 2008
Remittance inflows set a new record in 2008 crossing an 8 billion-dollar mark, thanks to an increased number of outbound workers.
According to Bangladesh Bank (BB) statistics, in the just-concluded calendar year remittance worth $8.22 billion came into the country marking a 25.36 percent growth. In 2007 remittance inflow was $6.55 billion. The figure was $769 million last December.
The central bank hopes the remittance inflow would cross $10 billion this year although there is a fear that global recession might cast a shadow on remittance.
Except for one month, the average monthly remittance earning in the last 11 months was more than $700 million.
Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment said remittance rose on the back of increased number of Bangladeshi workers abroad.
In 2008 around 8.75 lakh workers went abroad, Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said on Thursday.
The figure was 8.32 lakh in 2007 and 3.81 lakh in 2006.
In 2000 the remittance inflow was around $2 billion. Within the last few years it increased to $8 billion. A BB high official said as a result of rise in remittance inflow foreign currency reserve also became healthy.
Once it was difficult for BB to maintain a forex reserve of two to three billion dollars, the official said. Yesterday the forex reserve was $5.85 billion.
World Bank and local think tanks say if the global recession lingers, the growth of labour market may slow down. The government also apprehends a negative impact on remittance due to a crunch in labour market.
The finance adviser in a report last month said although the remittance inflow is good so far, the global recession may have a negative impact on it.
According to a report titled ‘State of the Bangladesh Economy in the run-up to the National Election 2008’ released by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in December, Saudi Arabia continued to rank as the major remittance source for Bangladesh.
Remittance from Saudi Arabia accounted for 29.9 percent of all remittance earnings (July-October, FY 2009), recording a 46.3 percent growth compared to that in FY08. Of the other major sources, remittance growth rates (in FY09) from UAE (54.5 percent), Kuwait (30 percent) and the US (43.6 percent) have been high so far.
Remittance also came in a significant amount from countries such as Malaysia. In FY08, remittance from Malaysia was only $5.89 million, which increased to $53.83 million up to October in FY09, said CPD.
The US is Bangladesh’s second largest remittance source, contributing around 17.4 percent of the total earnings up to now in FY09.
The CPD said the US has shed 1.9 million jobs with payrolls having now dropped for the 11th straight month.
According to CPD, financial meltdown is not likely to hit the Middle Eastern economies as severely as the West. The ME economies may experience decline in their growth during 2009, which is expected to be around 5.3 percent compared to 6 percent in 2007. So, remittance inflow from ME is unlikely to be affected much.
A BB high official said to avert any negative impact they have taken different measures. Already the banks have been asked to cut the remittance transfer costs.