Amazing, despite the extreme adverse conditions due to the global corona epidemic (COVID-19) and lockdown the prime source of foreign currency earning inBangladesh, the "remittance" kept floating without hindrance. This was due toexpatriates have sent money to their families to support them from their own savings or many have borrowed money. Swiftly, last three months starting from July 2021 there was decline in remittances flow to 541 Crore dollar. At the same time of the previous financial year, it was 671 crore, a decline of 131 crore or 19.44 percentage. In all conscience, it was nothing unexpected. The impact of remittance reduction has already been felt in the money market.
As a result, the dollar rose in the interbank currency market. Many believes that during the pandemic, many lost their jobs or returned to the country with their savings because of panic. Due to this there is a big growth in remittances. Again, in general logic, if there is a sudden increase in something, then the same pattern does not remain for long. However it is evident that post-COVID, the magic of remittance flow may not work as it did in the past due to impact in the source country. No doubt, the government's 2% incentive on remittances has encouraged sending money through banking channels. Also, International travel has resumed due to the reduction in the prevalence of corona. As a result, the Hundi may start again, it was almost close during pandemic.
As the exporting manpower to outside world during pandemic came to nearly standstill.It is high time that we need to look at markets outside the Middle East.Currently, 65 percent of total foreign remittance come from the Middle East. Furthermore, we have to focus on converting the remittances from consumption to investment.Amid spread of coronavirus and dip in oil prices and economic slowdown in the host country, thousands of Bangladeshis lost their jobs as the countries in the Middle East have halted a number of development projects. According to Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) statistics, Bangladesh's manpower export dropped by over 69% in 2020 as against 2019. But for the first in the history of Bangladesh, we are about to touch the milestone of 50 billion dollar foreign exchange reserves.
To improve the remittance situation, we have no other alternative butsendskilled workers abroad. There is a lot of demand for skilled and technically skilled workers abroad.In a survey conducted by the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM). It is learnt from the report that skilled workers are employed in well-paid jobs and send more remittances than low skilled workers over a long period of time. Currently, the study found that 98 percent of Bangladeshi migrant workers and remittance senders are men. About 12 percent of these migrant workers did not go to school at all and about 80 percent went to secondary school.Bangladeshi migrant workers get lower wages comparing to their opponents due to lacking skills. We need to take new initiatives to increase expatriate income by creating skilled human resources as overseas employment is playing an important role in alleviating poverty and empowering women.There is no denying that we lag far behind with other countries in terms of sending skilled workers and providing security for workers abroad.India is receiving more than five times the remittances of Bangladesh by sending a few less migrant workers than we do. In contrast, the number of migrant workers of China and Mexico is slightly higher than ours.
However, with this number of workers, the two countries are receiving four times and twice as much remittances as us.Bangladesh exported a total of 217,669 workers in 2020, 700,159 in 2019, 734,181 in 2018, 10,08,525 in 2017 and 757,731 workers in 2016 to different countries globally. Number of migrant workers was 6087 in 1976 but at present it stands at 10-12 million and the flow of total remittances to Bangladesh stands at stunning record of over $24.77 billion in fiscal year 2020-21 as the global economy yet recovering from the swirling effects of the coronavirus pandemic amid outbreaks and lockdowns.
Appropriate steps need to be taken to address the obstacles to building skilled and trained staff. In order to create trained and qualified workers, they need to be qualified accordingly in the work environment abroad. Also,it is important to verify that the quality of our current training is able to meet the international demand. In the gradually shrinking foreign labor market of Bangladesh, the demand is now only for skilled workers. The days of sending a large number of unskilled workers in the international market is almost over. Now everyone wants skilled workers.For now, the amount of remittances in the country has started to decrease and the amount of remittances sent by millions of unskilled workers is much less than the neighbouring countries.Workers' remittances will always be an importantand stable source of externaldevelopment finance to a developing country like Bangladesh. Remittances and the brain drain, i.e., the migration of highly educated workers, haveoccupied the centre of attention in the migration literature and policy debates in recentyears. It is high time to change our status from a labour exporting country to talent exporting country.
The industry that was developed in Bangladesh to recruit, screen and process workers who yearn to go abroad is required to keep under constant scrutiny by the government authorities. Over 10 million Bangladeshis migrant workers are the warden in taking care of rest 50 million of their family members back home. A single migrant's wages help provide education, health care and food for that worker's family. The entire procedure of expatriates' related mechanism should have been institutionalized long ago. Focusing on the wellbeing of the expatriates& their immediate family back homewas not always carefully chosen as priority. It is needed to be well reviewed to encourage the second largest foreign currency earning remittance sector in Bangladesh after Ready-Made Garment (RMG). Wealthy Gulf monarchies have for decades depended on unskilled and skilled foreign workers to transform their economiesbut with no formal route to citizenship or permanent residency, and no social safety nets, many expatriates who lost jobs due to measures to curb the spread of the virus and economic recession have been forced to return home. And, sadly the practice is yet to continue in the years ahead. We, Bangladesh should cope with the situation by doing rational groundwork.
Noor Mohammed is a computer engineer and veteran expat