First News
Volume:7, Number:40
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Business & Finance 1
THIS WEEK

Slowing the Flow

| Monowar Hossain |

The remittance inflow has declined due to falling wages, rising cost of living, and other factors influencing Bangladeshis working abroad

The declining trend in the inward flow of remittances continues causing concern among relevant sections of the government as to where the receipt figure might reach by the end of the current fiscal year (2016-17).

Concerned officials said that when the inflow of total remittances was registered at around USD1.05 billion at the end of July (one month into the current fiscal year), the amount received in February was USD936 million. The declining trend has been continuing since then (upto March) as the record suggests. So, it has been a cause of concern as to where the receipt figure would reach by the end of July. They said in the month of August (2016-17) the highest amount of remittance was received, which was USD1.18 billion. During the same month of the previous fiscal year (2015-16) the remittance received was to the tune of USD1.19 billion. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States of America (USA) are the three countries from where Bangladesh received the highest amounts of remittances over the past years. In January this fiscal, Bangladeshis in Saudi Arabia sent USD173.6 million, UAE USD152 million, and USA USD133 million. Inflows of remittances from all these three countries are falling as is found in the statistics.

The authorities have attributed the decrease to falling wages in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. But they could not specify the reason underlying the decrease in the inflow from the USA. Malaysia was one of the countries from which an inflow of remittance was substantial till a couple of years ago. But due to various reasons that inflow also has declined. Relevant sources in the central bank are of the opinion that remittances from Malaysia are perhaps coming through unofficial channels, which has become popular among Bangladeshis there. The channel operators identifying themselves as agents of b-Kash are luring workers and other Bangladeshi expatriates there in various ways and they have been quite successful in their efforts. B-Kash in Malaysia has no connection or relation with b-Kash working in Bangladesh. That outfit is working under the jurisdiction of another country. The central bank has initiated steps to deal with this matter with the Malaysian authorities. How long will it take to settle the matter is not clear as yet, said a high official of the central bank.

Inflows of remittances from other countries, except the UK, have also declined, according to statistics. The inflow from the UK was more or less stable till January this year. But in terms of amount, it is below the amount that came from Saudi Arabia or UAE or USA. It has been learned that there is a psychological change amongst Bangladeshis living in countries with a high concentration of them. They keep a good portion of their earnings with them (in Saudi Arabia, UAE and even USA) and transfer that to other countries of their choice, mainly for ultimate settlement there. Besides, the cost of living in those countries has gone up eating into the income of wage earners. So, Bangladeshis working in those countries cannot save as much as before and are sending home lower amounts of money. In addition to that, they said, it is natural that after the first few years, expatriates hold back some money to buy homes or start businesses abroad.

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