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Remittance inflows from top destinations declined

Zarif Mahmud: Bangladeshi expatriates based in Saudi Arabia and the United States are always at the top in sending remittances. Although these two countries have maintained the top position for several consecutive years, but the fiscal year 2023-24 has seen an exception. The remittances sent by expatriates from these two countries have decreased in the recent fiscal year. In this last fiscal year, the remittance sent by the UAE has risen to the top. Saudi Arabia, which was at the top in the previous financial year, dropped to the third position. Although remittance flows from the US have decreased, the country remains in the second position.
According to the data of Bangladesh Bank, the remittance from Saudi Arabia was $2.74 billion last financial year. Its previous financial year came to $377 million. In other words, compared to the 2022-23 fiscal year, remittances from the country in 2023-24 fiscal year have decreased by $103 million or 27.32 percent. Last fiscal year saw the biggest drop in remittances from the country.
Remittance flow from the United States decreased by $560 million or 15.91 percent last fiscal year. In the recently concluded 2023-24 financial year, remittances from the country reached $296 million. 2022-23 fiscal year came in at $3.52 billion.
The stakeholders said that due to the recent tightening of immigration policy in Saudi Arabia, many expatriates with valid visas are not getting jobs; Many of them are returning home without finding work. Besides, many people are returning home without being able to renew their visas as the country has made it difficult to renew work permits. Due to these reasons, the expatriate income from Saudi Arabia has decreased. And in the last two years, there has been an increase in money coming from many countries due to the fear that the United States may impose sanctions on Bangladesh. Due to this, the expatriate income from the country increased abnormally in the last few years. However, after the national election, the fear of the ban has subsided, and now the expatriate income has decreased again. (See Page-11)

In fiscal year 2023-24, apart from these two countries, expatriate income or remittances from Kuwait and Qatar have decreased. Remittance flow from Kuwait decreased by 4.49 percent last fiscal year. 21.38 percent decrease from Qatar.
Meanwhile, the highest remittances came to Bangladesh from the United Arab Emirates last financial year, amounting to $4.6 billion. In the previous fiscal year, remittances from the country were $303 million. That is, remittances from the country have increased by 51.81 percent in the outgoing financial year.
Analysts say that currently the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become one of the preferred destinations for the country’s wealthy groups, businessmen and politicians. Bangladeshi business, investment and property purchase is increasing in the country. For this reason, some analysts believe that a part of the money smuggled out of the country to Dubai may be brought back by smugglers to take advantage of the incentives. After taking advantage of the incentives, the money may again be laundered. Due to this, expatriate income from UAE has suddenly increased.
Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Mohammad Farasuddin also said on the occasion that most of the incentives given by the government to expatriate income are going to big and middlemen. They are giving part of the incentive to those who are remitting expatriate income, while the rest is being smuggled in themselves.
Apart from UAE, expatriate income from UK also increased in the last financial year. Expatriates remitted $2.79 billion in remittances from the country in the recent fiscal year. And in the previous fiscal year, $208 million came from the country. As a result, the income increased by 34.13 percent in the last financial year. In addition, remittances from Malaysia increased by 41.59 percent, Oman by 41.77 percent, Italy by 22.69 percent and Singapore by almost 50 percent in the last financial year.
According to the data of Bangladesh Bank, in the recent financial year 2023-24, remittance or expatriate income has come to the country of $2,391 million. Earlier in the fiscal year 2022-23, $2,161 million came. As a result, expatriate income has increased by 10.66 percent in the last financial year. In the fiscal year 2022-23, the growth in expatriate income was about three percent. In the fiscal year 2021-22, there was a negative growth of 12.78 percent in expatriate income.
45.32 percent of the total remittances came through the top five remittance receiving banks in the outgoing financial year. According to the report, Islami Bank Bangladesh was the most remittance collecting bank last financial year. $612 million came through the bank. After that, $166 million came through Social Islami Bank, $107 million through Janata Bank, $103 million through BRAC Bank and $92 million through Agrani Bank.
The Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RAMRU) works on migrant workers. Tasneem Siddiqui, founder chair of the organization, told that remittances from Saudi Arabia have decreased for several days. Basically, many people who are going to the country are not getting work; Many of whom are returning home. Many people are getting a job but the salary is low. Due to these reasons remittances from Saudi may decrease.
He said that remittances from the United States had increased abnormally in the last few years. Basically, there was a fear that sanctions might be imposed on Bangladesh. Now that the fear of the ban has passed, income has fallen again.
Tasnim Siddiqui also said that remittances from different countries increase or decrease from time to time, it is a normal thing. If the overall growth of remittances is good, then it is a matter of happiness.

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