Hassle-free remittance

Economists demand

A pragmatic measure is urgently needed to create an easy and hassle free channel to encourage Bangladesh expatriates living in different foreign countries to send their earnings to relatives, leading economists say. As most Bangladeshis face serious difficulties when they want to send money through legal channels, they prefer to choose illegal channels over the legal one, they opined.

When the Bangladesh expatriates go to banks or other financial institutions for sending money to the country, they are asked to show various documents and papers, they mentioned. But in most cases, they fail to show the documents and papers. As a result, they fail to send money through proper channel, they added.

Brac Migration Programme head Shariful Hasan told Bangladesh Post that most of the expatriates face many difficulties abroad that encouraged them to send money home through informal channels like ‘Hundi’. He said, the government should take some steps to give easy and quick service to remitters for encouraging expatriates to send money through legal channels.

He emphasised door-to-door remittance service to ensure hassle-free service, which will help them to provide remittance to their nearest and dearest ones safely and smoothly. Market analysts said, “The remittance inflow has not increased significantly since FY 2014-15, though between 2014 and 2019, more than 3 million additional people joined the migrant labour force.

However, the country’s remittance inflow stood at a record high of almost $16.4 billion in fiscal (FY) 2018-19, up by 9.5 percent from $14.98 billion in the previous fiscal. Bangladeshi expatriates sent home $11.65 billion in FY11, $12.84 billion in FY12, $14.46 billion in FY13, $14.23 billion in FY14, $15.31 billion in FY15, $14.93 billion in FY16, $12.77 billion in FY17 and $14.98 billion in FY18 respectively.

A Bangladeshi expatriate who lives in Saudi Arabia Shamsul Alam told this correspondent, “We (expatriates) faced lots of problems abroad, but Bangladesh missions do not take prompt initiatives to solve the problems. If these problems are solved as early as possible, remittance would increase automatically.”

On the issues of remittance, he said, “Most of the expatriates opt to send money at home through ‘Hundi’ as it is easy.” As an example, he said, “When I send money to my family at home through ‘Hundi’ door to door service is provided at a nominal cost. But, when I want to choose banking channel (formal channel), in most cases, I do not find any bank nearly in my territory, and that creates a lot of problems.”
Former lead Economist of World Bank, Dr Zahid Hussain, told Bangladesh Post, “The remittance has recently increased as local currency taka has depreciated against US dollar side by side oil price hike abroad.”

He mentioned, “The government is giving 2 percent cash incentive to remitters, which will encourage expatriates to send money through formal channels, but cash incentive is not the only solution to increasing remittance flow.” He pointed out that Bangladeshi expatriate workers, who speak little English, have poor basic formal education and few vocational industry-specific skills, and thus often face severe job insecurity.

The government should train up local workers as skilled labourers before sending them abroad, Zahid said, adding that Bangladesh should build good relations with other countries for sending more skilled workers abroad, which will boost remittance flow significantly. Bank Asia Managing Director and CEO, Md Arfan Ali told Bangladesh Post that the remittance inflow decreased significantly in 2016 and 2017 fiscals because of oil price hike in the global market side by side expatriate workers’ opting for remitting money through informal channels like ‘hundi’. 

Ali said, agent banking is doing a very good job by giving door-to-door remittance services, which will encourage expatriates to send their money through formal channels.