Remittance slump in offing?

Posted: ফেব্রুয়ারি 24, 2009 in Remittances

Govt and manpower agencies need to plan for downturn

That recruitment agents fear a 50 per cent slump in the demand for migrant workers due to the on-going global economic crisis, which could lead to a corresponding slump in remittance earnings, is worrisome news for the economy.

Last year migrants remitted some $9 billion, well over 10 per cent of the country’s GDP, and remittances have been the backbone of the economy for the past few years, playing the key role in keeping families afloat through the rise in prices of essentials, especially in the rural areas.

Of course, there is, even in these emaciated times, much that can be done to ensure that the inflow of funds remains steady.

The first is to diversify our target markets. Currently, over-reliance on the Middle East as a destination for migrant labour has left us vulnerable to the economic woes of that region. Diversifying destinations for migrant labour will help provide some level of insurance against a slump in any one region.

The second step would be to improve training and to search out greater opportunities for skilled and semi-skilled migrants. This will help diversify and thus protect the sources of remittance income. In addition, skilled and semi-skilled migrants are less vulnerable to economic downturns and also can be expected to remit more money than their non-skilled counterparts.

Finally, the government must take aggressive measures to ensure the welfare of our migrant workers. Especially at a time like this, it is imperative that their interests be safe-guarded, that their contracts are honoured, and that they are protected from any kind of scape-goating or unfair treatment.

Now is the time for the government to step up. The global economic downturn is real; and, for Bangladesh, the impact on our remittance earnings is the single biggest concern. The government and the manpower agencies must work together to ensure the welfare of our migrant work-force and to ensure that remittance earnings do not dry up. The negative consequences of such a slump in remittances would be felt in every district in the country.

Daily star 25.02.2009





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