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Migrant workers’ confidence in banks shrinks

Staff Correspondent
31 Jan 2024 20:36:46 | Update: 31 Jan 2024 20:37:34
Migrant workers’ confidence in banks shrinks
— TBP Photo

Migrant workers prefer sending remittance home through hundi – an illegal cross-border transaction system – due to a hassle-free higher exchange rate, and a lack of confidence on the banking channel.

This in turn has caused the inflow of remittance to slip, the country’s foreign exchange reserves to suffer serious pressure, and the macroeconomic stability to dwindle.

In 2023, the number of Bangladesh’s migrant workers increased by 13 per cent, but remittance increased by only 2.88 per cent when compared year-on-year. Moreover, the inflow of remittance did not increase from key destination countries in the concluding year.

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) Founding Chair Dr Tasneem Siddiqui made the remarks while revealing a report on migrant workers for 2023 at a press conference organised by RMMRU in the capital’s National Press Club on Wednesday.

She added, “As per Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) data, around 13.05 lakh Bangladeshi workers went abroad in 2023, which is the highest in the last 48 years, and it is a milestone for the country.

“However, this trend is not only seen in Bangladesh. Rather, the scenario is observed in every country of the South Asian region. The year-on-year growth was 300 per cent in Nepal in 2022.”

Besides, though a huge number of workers migrated, the remittance inflow is only up a lesser amount. Remittance inflow from Saudi Arabia decreased year-on-year by 3.9 per cent in 2023, despite 38 per cent of the total workers migrating to this country in the same period.

The country was the highest remittance source of Bangladesh during 2010 to 2022, while it slipped to second position in the concluding year.

To boost remittance inflow, the government can increase incentive against remittance to 10 per cent for low-earning migrant workers, and should raise confidence in the banking system, as well as increase investment opportunities for near terms.

Attending as the chief guest, Full Time Member of the National Human Rights Commission Md Selim Reza stressed on quality migration, and diversification and expansion of migrant countries and sectors.

He said, “The government and recruiting agencies should focus on diversification of the market, along with expansion of the traditional market. Otherwise, if any market closes for any reason, the overall migration will be impacted.

“The USD rate is higher in the kerb market, and people get money without any hassle at home under the hundi system. As a result, remittance did not increase compared to the significant rise in migrant worker numbers last year.”

Reza also stressed on training and language to ensure a hassle-free and exploitation-free migration, saying that the government should ensure that no one can migrate without training and language skills.


Female migration dips

The number of female migrant workers declined by 27.45 per cent to 76,519 last year, compared to 1,05,466 in 2022. The number was more than one lakh in every year during 2015-2019 period.

Later, due to the Covid-19 crisis, female workers’ migration was lower compared to that of 2020 and 2021. However, in the concluding year, the number of female migrant workers is lower than even the number of female workers in 2021 – which was 80,143 in that year.