A lingering global meltdown to hurt remittance:::: The Daily Star, 16 February 2009

Remittance from Bangladeshi migrant workers and export earnings will seriously be affected if the global recession lingers, Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) President Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said yesterday.

“There will certainly be an impact on remittance, as many workers are already losing jobs abroad and overseas employment is coming down,” he said, speaking at a seminar on Economics of Migrant Remittance: What Shapes and What Shakes.

Besides, people will start saving more money if the recession continues for long, which will affect the country’s export earnings, the economist said.

The programme was organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) at its auditorium in Dhaka.

The government must take immediate steps to address the issues, Dr Ahmad said. With demand for unskilled overseas workers dropping, the government in collaboration with the private sector should train in sectors that experiences more demand, he suggested.

Bangladesh missions abroad have not been “very helpful” to the needs of the Bangladeshi workers, he complained.

“Embassy officials must be assigned with responsibilities to look after each and every problem of the migrant workers,” he emphasised.

Stressing efficient utilisation of remittance, Dr Ahmad said the government must create facilities to attract investment from non-resident Bangladeshis.

ICAB President Nasir U Ahmed said the countries that are significantly dependent on overseas remittance are worried over the continuity of the inflow of foreign exchange, due to the global economic meltdown.

ICAB Council Member Jamaluddin Ahmed said Bangladesh does not need any foreign assistance if the money sent by the expatriates could be invested in productive sectors.

Improvements in banking facilities and infrastructure in the country could also significantly increase the inflow of migrants’ remittance, he said.

Incentives for formal channels of remittance could be put in place to discourage informal channels that do not contribute to the foreign exchange reserve, are not geared to development policies, the ICAB council member added.

Formal channels may be promoted by mandating remittance requirements, providing financial incentives and giving tax breaks, he said.

Ahmed suggested promoting electronic fund transfer, upgrading institutional capacity of banks, introducing mobile banking and modernising a cheque-clearing system to speed the transfer of money.

Dr Stephen Condrington, principal of United World College in Hong Kong, also spoke at the seminar. ICBA’s former President KZ Islam moderated the programme.

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