Remittance sent by Bangladeshi nationals working abroad has been a major pillar of foreign exchange earnings of the country for quite a long time now and that Bangladesh now stands on a strong economic footing is largely attributable to the robustness of this sector. In spite of the fact that the exact amount of remittance Bangladeshis send home cannot be quantified since not all of it comes through formal channels, the sum received officially is huge. It is a matter of gratification that remittance inflow to the country is touching new heights every passing year notwithstanding multifarious limitations and challenges. Latest Bangladesh Bank data reveal that the country fetched a total of $11.75 billion in the July-March period of the current fiscal year (2018-19), which is 9.24 per cent higher compared with that of corresponding period in the previous fiscal (2017-18).
Nevertheless, underneath this encouraging picture there lies an area of discontentment. This is that the foreign exchanges remitted by Bangladeshis working outside the country are used predominantly for family consumption and develop the family by paying school fees, building houses whereas a more planned use of the received money, especially investment in productive sectors, can greatly accelerate the growth of the national economy. Various empirical studies have found that foreign remittances can play a more effective role than foreign aid funding in socio-economic development of a country. This is because remittances go directly to their targets, while, estimates show that, less that 10 percent of the funds coming as official development assistance actually benefit the most vulnerable populations in some cases. The rest 90 percent or so enter the pockets of government officials and even foreign aid workers who are sometimes paid exceedingly highly to live in luxury in the midst of the poverty they are likely to eliminate. We expect the policymakers to take this aspect into account and devise policies in such ways so that the country can make the most out of the huge remittance it receives every year.
Another important issue that needs sincere pondering is that the bulk, if not all, of the foreign remittance is sent by people who belong to the lower strata of society. They go abroad by borrowing money and leaving their family entirely dependent on their income. Thus it is quite natural the money they send would be used primarily for family purposes. We urge the government to go for robust policies to attract the expatriates who along with their family live in foreign lands in richness and are more potential investors. The government may opt for incorporating the Diaspora community more in the country’s political system to make these people inclined towards investing in their motherland and thereby harness the full potential of remittance flows.