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Remittance and foreign currency reserves of Bangladesh


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Remittance hits $1.64 billion in January

Mehedi Hasan
 Published at 10:13 pm February 2nd, 2020

Remittance inflow increased by 21.45% to $11.04 billion in July-January period of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of last fiscal yea

Expatriate Bangladeshis sent $1.64 billion in remittance last month, up by 2.56% than the corresponding month of the previous year. 

Remittance inflow increased by 21.45% to $11.04 billion in July-January period of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of last fiscal year, according to data of Bangladesh Bank. 

Bankers said that the favorable exchange rate of taka against the dollar and a strong stance taken by the central bank to fight illegal money transfers had a positive impact on the increasing trend of remittance. 

On February 2 this year, the inter-bank exchange rate stood at Tk84.95, up from Tk83.95 a year earlier, according to the central bank data. 

The central bank has attributed the sharp rise in remittance to the government’s 2% cash incentive introduced in the current fiscal year.

“The flow of remittance into the country has shown an upward trend in the fiscal 2019-20 as the government has taken measures, including two percent cash incentive, to encourage legal channel for encouraging non-resident Bangladeshis to send money to their home country,” said the central bank’s spokesperson Md Serajul Islam.

He said the recent flow of remittance indicated that it was gradually increasing and this trend was likely to continue in the upcoming months.

In the current budget, the government offered a 2% incentive on money remitted through banks by Bangladeshi diasporas.

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Travellers can bring $10,000 without declaration: BB

STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has doubled the limit of foreign currency to US$10,000 or its equivalent that travellers can bring into the country without declaration to the customs authority.

Earlier, Bangladesh Bank allowed incoming passengers to bring $5,000 or its equivalent without declaration to the customs authorities.

“Bangladesh Bank has enhanced the limit to $10,000 or its equivalent from $5,000 or its equivalent,” said a BB circular issued in the capital yesterday.

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Forex reserves hit $35 billion mark for the first time

Bangladesh Bank’s foreign currency reserves hit $35 billion mark for the first time in history thanks to surging remittance despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Satisfactory remittance inflow and disbursement of aid by the developing partners drove the foreign exchange reserves up, Bangladesh Bank sources said.

According to the central bank, the country's foreign exchange reserves rose to $35 billion on June 23. On June 3, the reserve crossed $34 billion mark for the first time.

According to the Bangladesh Bank data, from July 1, 2019 to June 10, 2020, the expatriates sent $17.06 billion, thanks to the government budget declaration of 2 percent incentive.

In 2018-19 fiscal year, the country received $16.41 billion remittance and the figure was $14.98 billion in 2017-18. For the first time, the country's remittance inflow crossed $17 billion mark in a fiscal year despite a recent fall for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, there are over 10.02 million Bangladeshis working in 174 countries across the world. In 2019-20, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced 2 percent incentive on money remitted by the expatriate Bangladeshis.

The objectives were to mitigate the burden of increased expenses in sending foreign remittance through legal channels.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2021/07/31/lower-yield-on-bank-deposits-remittance-boost-savings-certificate-sales

Lower yield on bank deposits, remittance boost savings certificate sales

 Meraj Mavis

 Published at 08:47 pm July 31st, 2021

The net sales of savings certificates in FY21 was Tk37,386 crore, almost three times more than the previous 2019-20 fiscal

After a lukewarm performance in FY2019-20, savings certificates was the go-to option for all sorts of investors as Tk37,386 crore worth of certificates were sold in the first 11 months of FY2020-21, more than double from the same period of the previous fiscal.

According to the Directorate of Nationals Savings (DNS), the primary net target for selling savings certificates was Tk20,000, but this was raised to Tk30,302 crore as the revised target.

DNS figures also showed that the net sales of savings certificates was Tk37,386 crore, which is almost three times more than the net sales of Tk 14,424 crore in the previous 2019-20 fiscal year.

The total sales of Tk99,557 crore, after being accumulated with the June figure of FY21, is slated to surpass the previous record of Tk90,342 crore in FY19.

A total profit of Tk30,305 crore has been paid to the customers of the savings certificates from the state treasury in FY21.

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Data analysis shows that from July 2019, taxpayers' identification number (TIN) certificate was made mandatory for purchase over Tk1 lakh, while a 5% source tax on profits of the savings certificates was also introduced.

If the investment was more than Tk10 lakh, the source tax became 10%. Having a bank account was also made mandatory.

After that, the sales of savings certificates began to decrease.

However, the minimum bar for purchase with a TIN certificate has been raised from Tk1 lakh to Tk2 lakh in the current FY22.

AB Mirza Azizul Islam, economist and financial adviser to the former caretaker government, attributes this beyond-significant jump to the low interest rates offered by the banks, as well as increased remittance figures and the economic turnaround from the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, he said that amid the pandemic, savings certificates provide a better investment option than bank deposits.

"Our banks implement an interest rate of 6% on savings accounts, which is actually a little over 5%. It is also logical that the record remittance figures spur people to put their money on something viable in the long run, as a significant part of the population invest their hard-earned money on savings certificates, as it still provides viable profits to run their families," he also said.

However, there still remains a level of disparity as ordinary investors receive a certain interest on savings certificates, while ministers, MPs and other VIPs receive higher interest. The government should address this disparity to boost more sales, the economist added.

According to Bangladesh Bank's latest data, Remittance inflows hit a record high of $24.77 billion in the fiscal year 2020-21.

Expatriate Bangladeshis sent 36% more remittance in FY2020-21 compared to the same period in the previous fiscal, when it was $18.20 billion.

In addition, at present, there are four types of savings certificates in circulation in the country.

Among them, the profit rate of family savings certificates is 11.52%, the interest rate of five-year Bangladesh savings certificates is 11.28%, the profit rate of three-month profit-based savings certificates is 11.4% and the profit rate of pensioner savings certificates is 11.76%.

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https://www.newagebd.net/article/145419/finance-minister-dismisses-extra-1pc-cash-incentive-for-remittance

Finance minister dismisses extra 1pc cash incentive for remittance

Staff Correspondent | Published: 18:36, Aug 04,2021 | Updated: 18:38, Aug 04,2021

Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday dismissed another 1 per cent incentive against the inflow of remittance.

He said that the current 2 per cent cash incentive against the inflow of remittance was good enough while answering a question on extra one per cent incentive planned by the Bangladesh Bank.

The minister was talking to reporters virtually after presiding over meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and Government Purchases.

The government has been giving 2 per cent cash incentive for remittance since 2019-20 fiscal year. The inflow of remittance hit a record high of $24.77 billion in the 2020-21 FY.

But the inflow of remittance fell to a five-month low in July, 2021, at $1.87 billion which is 28 per cent lower than July of the previous financial year.

The country’s exports also declined by 11.19 per cent in the same month.

Mustafa Kamal blamed the restrictions throughout July in the wake of fresh upsurge in the number of Covid infected patients and deaths for the poor inflow of remittance and export incomes.

He laid emphasis on success of the on-going vaccination programme for proper economic recovery in the remaining part of the financial year.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2021/08/11/kamal-thanks-expatriate-workers-for-sending-remittance

Finance minister thanks expatriate workers for sending remittance

 BSS

 Published at 07:35 pm August 11th, 2021

Refutes Dr Debapriya's remark of 'remittance magic coming to an end'

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday thanked the expatriate Bangladeshi workers who are playing a piovital role towards the development of Bangladesh through sending their hard-earned remittance to their beloved motherland.

"The expatriate workers engaged in business and other jobs in abroad are sending their earned remittance to our country being imbued with patriotism. I thank them and express my gratitude to them while the countrymen would never forget their contributions," he also said.

The Finance Minister said this while responding to a question after chairing two separate meetings on the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) and the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP).

Responding to a question on the recent comment from a leading economist that the "magic of remittance may come to an end", Kamal said, "Remittance is not a magic. The flow of remittance will never come to an end."

Earlier on Sunday, Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the first month of the new fiscal year 2021-22 showed that remittances had sunk 28%, hence the magic weaved by remittance all these years for Bangladesh may be over soon.

Debapriya made the remarks during a media briefing organized by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh where a report titled 'Delivery of the National Budget 2021- in the Context of the Pandemic, Ensuring Interests of the Disadvantaged People' was published.

In this connection, the Finance Minister alleged that a vested quarter has been advocating against the incentive on sending remittance when it was introduced back in 2019 as they then had commented that the high remittance flow was temporary and it would not be sustainable.

Highlighting some figures of remittance inflow, Kamal said that before the incentive was introduced on remittance, the inward remittance flow in FY19 totaled $13.1 billion, but it soon got momentum with the introduction of incentive totaling the inward remittance flow at $18.2 billion in FY20 and thus making a jump to make $24.78 billion in FY21.

"But, they (critics) will say that much more remittances have come and it was not right," he said adding that the interested workers are still going abroad despite the pandemic availing various facilities extended by the government.

The Finance Minister said more Bangladeshi workers would go abroad once the COVID-19 situation comes to normalcy worldwide.

He cited that the country got $567 million remittances from August 1-9 this month compared to $450 million fetched on August 1-9 last year. "Still growth in remittance is there. So, I'm doubtful about the patriotism of those who say that the time of remittance has come to an end."

Replying to another question about the attainment of projected GDP growth target in the current fiscal year (FY22), the Finance Minister expressed his optimism about the attainment despite the pandemic.

He said although the provisional estimation of GDP growth for the FY20 was 5.24%, but it came down at 3.51% in the final estimation, even though it was the highest attainment in Asia.

Extending his heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the countrymen for such feat, Kamal said many countries of the world suffered negative growth during that fiscal year. "In overall consideration, our position was at the top in Asia," he added.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/outbound-investments-5-forex-reserve-cards-289750

Abul Kashem

17 August, 2021, 10:40 pm

Last modified: 17 August, 2021, 10:46 pm

Outbound investments up to 5% of forex reserve on cards

According to a draft overseas investment guideline, the govt will allow local companies, SMEs and NGOs with outbound investments to enlist in foreign stock markets

The government is set to provide outbound investment opportunities to local exporters and any company running their business in the domestic market for 10 years.

This opportunity will be extended to small and medium enterprises interested in establishing backward and forward linkage industries, along with NGOs with a reputation for working towards society's betterment and improving people's quality of life in Bangladesh.

The government will allow local companies with outbound investments to enlist in foreign stock markets too. However, Bangladesh's total outbound investment in a single fiscal year will not exceed 5% of the central bank's foreign exchange reserves for that particular fiscal year.

After finalising the "Overseas Investment Guideline 2021" with such provisions and more, the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) will submit it to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) for approval, said Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam.

The guideline will come into effect following the final approval at the cabinet meeting, he added while responding to The Business Standard through WhatsApp from the USA.

According to the draft guideline, exporters will be able to make outbound investments reaching up to 25% of their average exports in the past five years. Other companies and NGOs will be able to invest up to 25% of their net assets – per their latest audited balance sheet.

Companies seeking to invest more than these amounts can apply for the opportunity along with a proper rationale behind their decision. If needed, the Bangladesh government will allow such companies to make outbound investments against bank guarantees.

Providing more details, Sirazul said, "The guideline is a very important and sensitive document. That is why we are consulting as many stakeholders as possible before finalising it from our end.

"Once it is approved, I think it will meet a long-standing demand of the private sector entrepreneurs, and it will definitely help build a brighter image of Bangladesh in the international arena."

He continued, "The guideline is still under process. Bida may be able to finalise it soon, but it has to go through several other processes. We will send it to the PMO. After scrutiny, the PMO will hold an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss and finalise this guideline.

"It will then be sent to the Cabinet Division for further discussion and approval. While going through this process, the guideline might witness changes, refinement and reorganisation. If the cabinet approves, the guideline will be published in a government gazette."

What are the conditions?

Addressing the criteria for eligibility, the guideline's third amended draft says a company interested in making outbound investments must possess $5 million worth of net assets – reflected by their audited balance sheets in the last five years.

The government will consider providing SMEs with the same opportunity based on solvency certificates provided by banks.

A company seeking to invest overseas in a particular sector must have at least three years of business or manufacturing experience in that field, and of the three years, at least two must be profitable. This rule will be relaxed for ICT entrepreneurs.

Companies with unpaid taxes, import costs, and defaulted loans will not be allowed to invest overseas. The regulators will also take legal action under the money laundering prevention act against any company found to be wasting funds in the name of outbound investment.

The draft says an inter-ministerial committee – headed by the Bida executive chairman – will be formed to review outbound investment proposals and submit recommendations to the Bangladesh Bank for final approval.

However, overseas investments up to $1 million will not require the committee's recommendation.

Organisations approved for investing overseas will be able to take out loans from their mother companies, Bangladeshi banks, or from any commercial banks in the countries they are investing in.

During the initial phase, these organisations will be allowed to operate under the 70:30 debt-to-capital ratio. They will also be able to provide corporate, personal or any other property located in Bangladesh as a guarantee to finance their overseas projects.

No concrete guidelines exist now

Responding to a query, several officials from the Bangladesh Bank and Bida said the country presently has no concrete guidelines regarding Bangladeshi companies' outbound investments.

Interested organisations presently apply to the central bank for permission. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs – led by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal – reviews these applications and gives recommendations to the regulator for approval.

Bangladesh, for the first time in 2013, permitted Mobil-Jamuna Group to invest $5.10 million overseas. Since then, a few more companies such as the DBL Group, Beximco Pharma, Square Pharmaceuticals and Akij Group have received the opportunity to invest overseas.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/forex-reserves-cross-record-48-billion-mark-292702

TBS Report

24 August, 2021, 10:45 pm

Last modified: 24 August, 2021, 10:48 pm

Forex reserves cross record $48 billion mark

 

The country's foreign exchange reserves witnessed a new record crossing the $48 billion mark following the $1.45 billion financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In addition to remittances sent by expatriates, the IMF aid mainly contributed to the surge in forex reserves.

Foreign exchange reserves in Bangladesh have reached new heights due to the positive trend of remittances sent by expatriates and the addition of loan assistance from the IMF, said a Bangladesh Bank official.

By international standards, a country has to have reserves equal to three months of import expenditure. With the amount of reserves that Bangladesh has now, it is possible to pay the import cost for more than 8 months at the rate of $6 billion per month.

The reserve crossed the $46 billion-mark on 28 June while $45.01 billion-mark on 3 May and crossed the $44 billion mark on 24 February this year and touched the $40 billion-mark on October 28 last year.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/sri-lanka-set-to-get-another-100m-from-bangladesh-under-swap-arrangement-1630290778

Sri Lanka set to get another $100m from Bangladesh under swap arrangement

 SIDDIQUE ISLAM | Published:  August 30, 2021 08:32:59

Bangladesh is set to send US$100 million more to Sri Lanka today (Monday) to help the island nation in minimising foreign-exchange crunch on their economy, officials said.

The fund from Bangladesh has been provided under the currency-swap agreement signed by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) on August 03.

Earlier on August 18, the BB transferred $50 million to the CBSL in the first installment under the currency-swap deal initiated in March this calendar year.

As per the agreement, the central bank of Bangladesh will transfer $50 million more shortly to its counterpart of Sri Lanka if the CBSL sends a request to the BB within five working days after receiving the second tranche of the aid, according to the officials.

"We're hopeful that the CBSL would send a request within the stipulated timeframe seeking a third instalment of the agreement," a BB senior official told the FE Sunday.

Under the deal, the central bank of Bangladesh will provide a total of $200 million to help prop up the island nation's fast-depleting foreign reserves and ease pressure on its exchange rate.

The decision on the currency swap was set in motion during Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Bangladesh in March 2021.

As per the agreement, the CBSL will have to deposit an equivalent amount of its currency with the BB's account which has already been opened in the SAARC-member country.

"We're providing the funds under currency swap-agreement aiming to help a friendly SAARC-member country which is in trouble," another BB official told the FE.

He also said it is the first currency swap outside the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism.

The ACU is an arrangement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, through which intraregional transactions among the participating central banks are settled on a multilateral basis.

The central bank of Bangladesh has given the first tranche for all the instalments for three months, according to the central banker.

If the CBSL fails to repay the loan by the deadline, it will get three more months to repay. If it fails to pay back again, it will be given three more months.

The CBSL will return the amount in three months at the interest rate of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) plus 2.0 per cent. If it can't honour the deadline, the interest rate will not change.

But if the tenure goes up to six months, the interest rate will be LIBOR plus 2.5 per cent.

LIBOR is a benchmark interest rate at which major global banks lend to one another on the international inter-bank market for short-term loans.

Striking a balance between supporting the economy amid Covid-19 and ensuring fiscal sustainability remains a key challenge for Sri Lanka, according to the World Bank.

"Public and publicly guaranteed debt is estimated to have increased to 109.7 per cent of GDP. Reserves declined to an 11-year low in February 2021, and the exchange rate depreciated by 6.5 per cent from January through March 17, 2021," the World Bank said in a statement on April 09.

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https://bangla.dhakatribune.com/economy/2021/09/01/39028

আগস্টে ১৮১ কোটি ডলার রেমিট্যান্স এসেছে

 ট্রিবিউন ডেস্ক

 প্রকাশিত ০৬:৪৩ সন্ধ্যা সেপ্টেম্বর ১, ২০২১

গত বছরের আগস্ট মাসে রেমিট্যান্স এসেছিল ১৯৬ কোটি মার্কিন ডলার

আগস্ট মাসে প্রবাসীরা ১৮১ কোটি মার্কিন ডলারের রেমিট্যান্স পাঠিয়েছেন। বুধবার (১ সেপ্টেম্বর) কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংকের হালনাগাদ প্রতিবেদনে এ তথ্য তুলে ধরা হয়েছে। গত বছরের আগস্ট মাসে রেমিট্যান্স এসেছিল ১৯৬ কোটি মার্কিন ডলার।

বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের তথ্য বলছে, গত জুলাইয় ও আগস্ট— এই দুই মাসে প্রবাসীরা  রেমিট্যান্স পাঠিয়েছেন ৩৬৮ কোটি ২০ লাখ ডলার। আগের বছরের একই সময়ে প্রবাসীরা পাঠিয়েছিলেন ৪৫৬ কোটি ২০ লাখ ডলার।

কেন্দ্রীয় ব্যাংকের তথ্য অনুযায়ী, আগস্ট মাসে রাষ্ট্রায়ত্ত ব্যাংকগুলোর মাধ্যমে রেমিট্যান্স আহরিত হয়েছে ৩৯ কোটি ৫৪ লাখ ডলার। বিশেষায়িত দুটি ব্যাংকের মাধ্যমে ৩ কোটি ৪২ লাখ ডলার রেমিট্যান্স এসেছে। এছাড়া বেসরকারি ব্যাংকগুলোর মাধ্যমে ১৩৭ কোটি ৩১ লাখ ডলার এবং বিদেশি ব্যাংকগুলোর মাধ্যমে ৭৪ লাখ ডলার রেমিট্যান্স এসেছে।

বেসরকারি ব্যাংকগুলোর মধ্যে আগ‌স্টে ইসলামী ব্যাংকের মাধ্যমে রেমিট্যান্স আহরিত হয়েছে ৫০ কোটি ৮৯ লাখ মার্কিন ডলার। এছাড়া ডাচ-বাংলা ব্যাংকে এসেছে ১৮ কোটি ৮০ লাখ ডলার রেমিট্যান্স। অগ্রণী ব্যাংকের মাধ্যমে ১৬ কোটি ২৫ লাখ ডলার, সোনালী ব্যাংকের মাধ্যমে ১১ কোটি ডলার এবং জনতার মাধ্যমে সা‌ড়ে ৬ কোটি ডলার রেমিট্যান্স আহরিত হয়েছে।

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https://tbsnews.net/economy/banking/sri-lanka-so-far-got-150m-bangladesh-301156#.YTzXL_2y2Wg.facebook

TBS Report

11 September, 2021, 10:15 pm

Last modified: 11 September, 2021, 10:19 pm

Sri Lanka so far got $150m from Bangladesh 

The rest of the amount promised under the $250 million currency swap agreement will be released on demand of Sri Lanka, said a senior executive of the Bangladesh Bank

 

When Sri Lanka is going through an economic emergency amid a serious scarcity of foreign reserves, the Bangladesh Bank has continued to provide the island nation with liquidity support under a currency swap deal.

The Bangladesh Bank has so far lent $150 million to debt-strapped Sri Lanka in two instalments. In the second instalment, $100 million was released on 30 August this year while another $50 million was transferred earlier the same month.

The rest of the amount promised under the $250 million currency swap agreement will be released on demand of Sri Lanka, said a senior executive of the Bangladesh Bank. 

Currently, China along with Bangladesh are providing liquidity support through currency swap deals. 

However, the foreign reserve of Sri Lanka continued to deteriorate, compelling the country to announce an economic emergency recently. 

After meeting a $1 billion debt repayment in July from reserves, the Sri Lankan government had only enough dollars to cover less than two months of imports.

The spiraling crisis in Sri Lanka raised the risk for Bangladesh about getting back its loan.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/exports-see-record-473b-rise-october-324325#.YYE0LBbjS3g.facebook

Jasim Uddin

02 November, 2021, 06:45 pm

Last modified: 02 November, 2021, 11:15 pm

Export sees record over 60% growth in Oct

The October earnings were 13.7% higher than the amount earned in September

bangladeshs_overall_export_trend.jpg?ito

Bangladesh has recorded its highest ever single-month export earnings amounting to $4.72 billion in October, thanks to a strong rebound in demand for apparels in western countries ahead of festival season and supply disruptions from key competitors that faced fresh waves of pandemic.

The export receipts surpassed the $3.46 billion target set for the month, registering a whopping 60.37% year-on-year growth, according to provisional data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) released on Tuesday.

Apparel shipment grew by 53.27% to $3.56 billion year-on-year in October, raising the total export earnings to $15.74 billion in the first four months of this fiscal year.

The October earnings were 13.7% higher than the amount earned in September.

Leather, agriculture, fish, pharmaceuticals and plastic products also posted impressive growth year-on-year. 

However, jute and jute goods lost out, posting over 8.03% negative growth in October.

Apparel exporters are hopeful of export growth in the next couple of months, but are concerned about lower unit prices compared to soaring costs of raw materials.

Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said, "Our exports have witnessed a strong growth as many work orders are shifting to us from our competitor countries because of export disruptions in Vietnam and India owing to Covid-19 and political instability in Myanmar and increased production cost in China."

The BGMEA vice-president also said apparel shipment grew as a good amount of payment has come from deferred LC shipments, those were suspended owing to Covid-19. 

"But it is not a matter of self-satisfaction as we have to work together for its continuation," he also said.

Dr Abdur Razzaque, chairman of the Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) Society, told The Business Standard, "This record growth in October exports reflects the strong recovery of Western developed countries. The demand for goods in those markets have long been subdued by weakened economic activities." 

After the withdrawal of lockdowns and other mobility restriction measures, people have started resuming their activities, including being physically present at workplaces as well as tourism related activities. Both have a positive impact on the demand for the types of goods that Bangladesh exports - apparels and other consumer goods such as leather and leather goods, he added.

"Since the demand for the items were long subdued, we will see stronger spending patterns by consumers. Also, foreign demand has been buoyed by large stimulus support in developed countries," said Dr Abdur Razzaque.

Inflationary pressures in those markets have also boosted prices of goods, he added.

However, the 60% growth over the past year does not make much sense as recovery at times was quite feeble, he noted.

"The effect of higher spending and generous stimulus are likely to unwind over the coming months and thus this boom could be short-lived. Also, not only Bangladesh, but other countries as well are benefiting from the global economic recovery. China, for instance, clocked a 30% export growth in September."

But, China's exports will soon come under tremendous pressure as the US is desperate about containing its bilateral trade deficit against China. This, therefore, presents an opportunity for Bangladesh to expand its exports as China's market share, especially in apparels, is bound to fall further, added Dr Razzaque, also research director of Policy Research Institute.

The July-October earnings were 22% higher than $12.84 billion earned in the same period last fiscal year and 13% higher than the set target.

The highest earnings, $2.04 billion, came from knitwear shipment, while woven items fetched $1.51 billion, both posting over 52% growth from a year-ago period. 

The BGMEA vice-president said they will face challenges in coming days in maintaining shipment schedules as most apparel exporters have faced shortage of working capital as buyers are paying them after up to 180 days of sending goods.

On the other hand, raw materials prices have gone high, but their credit limits are not adjusted with it.

"If banks do not increase our credit limit we will not sustain in business in the coming days," said Azim.

Shovon Islam, managing director (MD) at Sparrow Group, said the US and European buyers have bought a huge quantity of goods from Bangladesh for next Christmas and the fall and winter seasons in the USA and autumn and winter seasons in the European Union as those countries' economies and stores reopened in keeping with improvement in the Covid-19 situation.

Bangladesh has become the most reliable sourcing hub for buyers as most of its competitor countries are not able to supply goods on time owing to the pandemic, he also said.

Shovon hopes such apparel export growth will continue in November and December. Generally, spring and summer season shipments start from the end of December, but this year it will be in November as buyers are trying to receive those earlier because of the supply chain crisis.

He also said prices of goods shipments in October were not good as most orders were confirmed before the yarn price hike. But they got better prices for late orders that shifted from other countries.

The Sparrow Group MD said owing to a hike in raw material prices, the overhead cost increases 5%-7%, while the garment's cost of making has gone up 3%-4%.

"But we are now receiving positive notices from buyers over getting extra prices for those to be shipped in next January-February," he noted.

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Jasim Uddin

02 November, 2021, 06:45 pm

Last modified: 02 November, 2021, 11:15 pm

Export sees record over 60% growth in Oct

The October earnings were 13.7% higher than the amount earned in September

bangladeshs_overall_export_trend.jpg?ito

Bangladesh has recorded its highest ever single-month export earnings amounting to $4.72 billion in October, thanks to a strong rebound in demand for apparels in western countries ahead of festival season and supply disruptions from key competitors that faced fresh waves of pandemic.

The export receipts surpassed the $3.46 billion target set for the month, registering a whopping 60.37% year-on-year growth, according to provisional data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) released on Tuesday.

Apparel shipment grew by 53.27% to $3.56 billion year-on-year in October, raising the total export earnings to $15.74 billion in the first four months of this fiscal year.

The October earnings were 13.7% higher than the amount earned in September.

Leather, agriculture, fish, pharmaceuticals and plastic products also posted impressive growth year-on-year. 

However, jute and jute goods lost out, posting over 8.03% negative growth in October.

Apparel exporters are hopeful of export growth in the next couple of months, but are concerned about lower unit prices compared to soaring costs of raw materials.

Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said, "Our exports have witnessed a strong growth as many work orders are shifting to us from our competitor countries because of export disruptions in Vietnam and India owing to Covid-19 and political instability in Myanmar and increased production cost in China."

The BGMEA vice-president also said apparel shipment grew as a good amount of payment has come from deferred LC shipments, those were suspended owing to Covid-19. 

"But it is not a matter of self-satisfaction as we have to work together for its continuation," he also said.

Dr Abdur Razzaque, chairman of the Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) Society, told The Business Standard, "This record growth in October exports reflects the strong recovery of Western developed countries. The demand for goods in those markets have long been subdued by weakened economic activities." 

After the withdrawal of lockdowns and other mobility restriction measures, people have started resuming their activities, including being physically present at workplaces as well as tourism related activities. Both have a positive impact on the demand for the types of goods that Bangladesh exports - apparels and other consumer goods such as leather and leather goods, he added.

"Since the demand for the items were long subdued, we will see stronger spending patterns by consumers. Also, foreign demand has been buoyed by large stimulus support in developed countries," said Dr Abdur Razzaque.

Inflationary pressures in those markets have also boosted prices of goods, he added.

However, the 60% growth over the past year does not make much sense as recovery at times was quite feeble, he noted.

"The effect of higher spending and generous stimulus are likely to unwind over the coming months and thus this boom could be short-lived. Also, not only Bangladesh, but other countries as well are benefiting from the global economic recovery. China, for instance, clocked a 30% export growth in September."

But, China's exports will soon come under tremendous pressure as the US is desperate about containing its bilateral trade deficit against China. This, therefore, presents an opportunity for Bangladesh to expand its exports as China's market share, especially in apparels, is bound to fall further, added Dr Razzaque, also research director of Policy Research Institute.

The July-October earnings were 22% higher than $12.84 billion earned in the same period last fiscal year and 13% higher than the set target.

The highest earnings, $2.04 billion, came from knitwear shipment, while woven items fetched $1.51 billion, both posting over 52% growth from a year-ago period. 

The BGMEA vice-president said they will face challenges in coming days in maintaining shipment schedules as most apparel exporters have faced shortage of working capital as buyers are paying them after up to 180 days of sending goods.

On the other hand, raw materials prices have gone high, but their credit limits are not adjusted with it.

"If banks do not increase our credit limit we will not sustain in business in the coming days," said Azim.

Shovon Islam, managing director (MD) at Sparrow Group, said the US and European buyers have bought a huge quantity of goods from Bangladesh for next Christmas and the fall and winter seasons in the USA and autumn and winter seasons in the European Union as those countries' economies and stores reopened in keeping with improvement in the Covid-19 situation.

Bangladesh has become the most reliable sourcing hub for buyers as most of its competitor countries are not able to supply goods on time owing to the pandemic, he also said.

Shovon hopes such apparel export growth will continue in November and December. Generally, spring and summer season shipments start from the end of December, but this year it will be in November as buyers are trying to receive those earlier because of the supply chain crisis.

He also said prices of goods shipments in October were not good as most orders were confirmed before the yarn price hike. But they got better prices for late orders that shifted from other countries.

The Sparrow Group MD said owing to a hike in raw material prices, the overhead cost increases 5%-7%, while the garment's cost of making has gone up 3%-4%.

"But we are now receiving positive notices from buyers over getting extra prices for those to be shipped in next January-February," he noted.

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Abul Kashem

05 November, 2021, 02:15 pm

Last modified: 05 November, 2021, 02:50 pm

Exports to India grow 65% in Jul-Oct

Bangladesh’s export income from India is expected to cross the $2 billion mark for the first time this year

top_ten_export-01_0.jpg?itok=AgcxcWSq&ti

TBS Infograph

Bangladesh's exports to India increased by 65% to $700 million year-on-year in the first four months of the current 2021-22 fiscal year.

With this, the neighbouring country has entered the list of the top six export destinations of Bangladesh.

If the growth continues at the current pace, the country's export income from the largest economy in the South Asia region will exceed $2 billion for the first time this year, according to exporters as well as officials of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

In FY21, the country's exports to India crossed the $1 billion mark for the first time and stood at $1.28 billion.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh's exports to its largest market, the United States of America (USA) – a destination for one-fifth of the country's total exports – grew by more than 35% in July-October this year. Exports growth to other major destinations in Europe, including Germany and the United Kingdom (UK), also saw marked growth during the period.

Riding on this strong growth trajectory, the export receipts surpassed the $3.46 billion target set for the month of October by 36.5% while the year-on-year growth in the month was a whopping 60.37%.

The Ministry of Commerce has set an export target of $43.5 billion for the current financial year. Exports in the four months to October stood at $15.7 billion, which is 13.33% more than the four-month target.

Exporters are expecting high growth in the export of goods to these countries in the coming days as the economies there are turning around overcoming the shocks induced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

EPB Vice Chairman AHM Ahsan told The Business Standard that exports of major products to major markets have increased in recent months, thanks to an improvement in Covid situation across the world coupled with various government initiatives to diversify export products and markets.

"Hopefully, this trend will continue in the future," he said.

Abul Matlub Ahmad, president of the Bangladesh-India Chamber of Commerce and Industries, told TBS that Bangladesh's exports to India would touch the $2 billion milestone in the current financial year if the current trend of growth continues.

Mentioning that India is one of the largest importers in the world, he said Bangladeshi exporters are benefiting from the export of various new products including ready-made garments and food products to the country. Exports of jute and leather and leather products are also increasing this year, he continued.

Matlub Ahmad also said Bangladeshi exporters are focusing on India outside the conventional markets, including the United States and the European Union, to take advantage of India's duty-free access facility to all but 25 products.

Lower shipping charges is another major reason for the increase in exports to India, he said.

"Shipping charges have tripled internationally due to the pandemic. As Bangladesh has a land border with India, Indian importers are being encouraged to import from Bangladesh to reduce this extra cost. Due to this, exports to India are growing at higher rates than to other countries," he added.

The former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) further said that the main reason for Bangladesh's high export growth to European countries and the United States is the ongoing US-China trade war.

"The breaking down of international shipping and logistics chains is also hurting China's exports to Western countries, which is benefiting Bangladesh. This will continue in the future," he said.

Major products have been the key to rising exports to India

According to the EPB, the 64.7% growth in the country's exports to India – with which Bangladesh has an annual trade deficit to the tune of $5 billion – during the July-October period was the highest when compared to growths in export income from other markets in the list of top 20 export destinations.

Bangladesh's exports to India against its total exports were 3.31% during the July-October period of last fiscal year. The figure has increased to 4.44% during the corresponding period this year.

The EPB has not yet prepared product-wise export data for October. However, an analysis of the export data to India for three months till September shows that the high export growth there was mainly driven by an increase in exports of the major export products – such as woven and knitwear, jute and jute products, cotton and cotton products, plastics, and leather and leather products.

Especially, the approval to export wet blue (wet leather tanned with chrome salts) during Eid-ul-Azha and a crisis of jute in both the countries caused significant growths in exports of these two items during the period, according to people concerned.

Growing US market

Bangladesh earned about $800 more in export receipts from the US in July-October this year when compared to the same period a year ago. As a result, Bangladesh's exports to its largest export market exceeded $3 billion in just four months.

Bangladesh earned less than 18% of its export income from the US during the first four months of last fiscal, but the figure stood at 19.5% during the corresponding period this year.

Bangladesh's exports to the US had taken a heat from the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite a drop in exports in the previous fiscal year, the growth rate in exports to the United States in the last fiscal year was less than 6%. However, since the US economy turned around after the epidemic, exports of caps, home textiles, and crustaceans have been growing at a high rate alongside woven and knitwear.

Consolidating grip on Europe

After the US, Germany, the UK, Spain, and France were the top four export markets for Bangladesh during July-October this year. Exports to all of these four countries saw double-digit growths in the four months and the highest 13.28% growth was to Germany.

Among the European countries in the top 20 export markets, the lowest growth was in Italy, at 5.43%.

Among European countries, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain have seen the highest growth in imports from Bangladesh in the current financial year. Bangladesh's exports to Poland increased by 31% year-on-year in July-October this year while those to the Netherlands and Spain were 27% and 22.53%, respectively.

Benefit of duty-free access to Chinese market

Dhaka has also started reaping the benefits of duty-free export of 97% of its products to China, the largest economy in Asia. Bangladesh's exports to the country grew by 11.94% year-on-year in July-October this year.

During the period, exports to Japan also grew by more than 13%.

Among Asian countries, Bangladesh's exports to the United Arab Emirates almost doubled to $210 million.

Exports to Russia rose by a quarter to $207 million.

New markets show promise

An analysis of EPB data shows growth has been achieved in 19 of the 20 major markets of Bangladesh during July-October. During the period, exports growth was negative only to Turkey where Bangladesh's exports fell by almost 50% to $103 million.

EPB officials said the export growth was higher in non-conventional markets than in the conventional ones. Exports to non-conventional markets outside the top 20 export markets increased by 39.42%.

Exports to the new market stood at $1.38 billion in July-October last year, which have increased to $1.93 billion this year.

What exporters want

Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said, "Our exports have witnessed a strong growth as many work orders are shifting to us from our competitor countries because of export disruptions in Vietnam and India, owing to Covid-19 and political instability in Myanmar and increased production cost in China."

"We still have enough orders coming in," he said, adding, "But, in order to utilise it, it is necessary to increase the single-borrower exposure limit to 20% in the case of providing bank loans to readymade garment exporters."

He also emphasised the need for developing port infrastructure.

"Imports have gone up due to increase in prices of various raw materials including woven fabrics. It is not possible to import raw materials as per the export orders as the exposure limit has not been increased," he added.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/forex-reserves-likely-to-hit-54b-on-remittance-inflow-by-fy24-1638096336

Forex reserves likely to hit $54b on remittance inflow by FY24

Published:  November 28, 2021 16:45:36 | Updated:  November 28, 2021 21:45:49

Bangladeshis working abroad are expected to send large sums of money back home over the next three fiscal years helping the country’s foreign currency reserve to hit US$53.99 billion by the middle of 2023-24 fiscal year, reports UNB. 

The government projects over a 12 per cent increase on average in the inflow of remittance, the key drivers of the country’s more than $409 billion economy, over the next three fiscal years, including the current one.

According to a Finance Ministry document obtained by UNB, the remittance inflow of 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 was 11.2 per cent and 36 per cent while the target for the current 2021-22 fiscal is 15 per cent with a projection of 12 per cent and 10 per cent for 2022-23 and 2023-24 fiscals respectively.

The document reveals that the foreign exchange reserve was USD 36.04 billion and USD 44 billion in 2019-20 fiscal and 2020-21 fiscal respectively while the target for the current 2021-22 fiscal is USD 48.37 billion with the projection of having USD 50.74 billion and USD 53.99 billion for 2022-23 fiscal and 2023-24 fiscal respectively.

For a developing and emerging economy, the role of foreign remittances has always been crucial. In the context of Bangladesh, foreign remittances are expected to help reduce the current account deficit and augment GDP growth by stimulating domestic demands, the document says.

On the other hand, it says, the micro-level context shows that remittance inflows affect the lifestyle of the household as well as increase the saving level that can serve as an important source of capital.

The document mentions that the government has taken several initiatives to increase remittance inflows as well as foreign employment.

The initiatives include providing cash incentives for sending remittances through banking channels, simplification of remittance-related rules and regulations, reduction in administrative costs for sending remittances through financial institutions and exploration of new market sources for manpower export.

The official remittance inflows began going up in 2020-21 fiscal despite global and domestic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The total inflow of foreign remittances during the 2020-21 fiscal was $24.77 billion which is 36 per cent higher than the same period of the previous fiscal year.

According to the document, the current account deficit widened in 2019-20 fiscal due to weak exports before moving into surplus in 2020-21 fiscal, supported by a surge in official remittance inflows.

The current account surplus reached USD 1.6 billion at the end of February 2021, which had a deficit of USD 2.1 billion during the same period of the previous year.

During the period, the capital and financial accounts remained positive with USD 0.61 billion net FDI, and hence overall balance was positive.

However, as per the document, the gross foreign exchange reserve grew to a record growth supported by a continued surge in official remittance and budget support received from various agencies.

The reserve is equivalent to meeting the import bill of around 10 months. The nominal Taka/US dollar exchange rate remained stable in the last fiscal.

The depreciation of the taka against the US dollar is likely to impact both the export earnings and remittance inflows positively.

Effective demand management by the Bangladesh Bank and positive projections in the external sector will keep the exchange rate competitive on the external front, the document says.

To achieve accelerated GDP growth, the document says, a higher level of public and private investment is essential, which eventually requires a higher amount of imports.

In the medium term, Bangladesh is implementing mega infrastructure projects to accomplish higher GDP growth which requires strong foreign reserves. As a result, the current account will certainly accrue some deficit.

However, the official document mentioned, positive capital and financial account extended ODA and FDI is expected to mitigate the adverse effects. The optimal use of project aid in the pipeline, foreign investment in economic zones and inflow of external credit in the private sector may lead to the accumulation of an adequate surplus in financial and capital accounts.

The government has received budget support of around USD 3 billion in 2019-20 fiscal and 2020-21 fiscal from various development partners and expects to receive further USD 2.4 billion as budget and vaccine support.

As a result, the official document points out, the overall balance will remain favourable with the uptrend of foreign exchange reserves. Considering everything, the medium-term current account deficit is expected to remain negative.

The document also mentioned that the foreign exchange reserve is expected to stretch to USD 53.3 billion in the medium term.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/bangladesh-6th-largest-origin-country-migrants-iom-337816

TBS Report

02 December, 2021, 03:45 pm

Last modified: 02 December, 2021, 11:29 pm

Bangladesh 6th largest migrants’ origin country; 8th in remittance received

The country ranked eighth in the list for top remittance-receiving nations in the world

internatinal_migrant-01_0.png?itok=f6VRg

 

Highlights:

  • Bangladesh ranks sixth with 7.4m people living abroad
  • India tops list of countries of origin for migrant workers
  • Bangladesh received $21.75bn in remittance  
  • International remittance declined by $17bn
  • An unprecedented 40.5 million displaced

Bangladesh, with around 7.4 million of its people living abroad, ranked sixth in the list of top 20 countries of origin for international migrants, and was the eighth largest remittance receiving country in the last year, according to the World Migration Report 2022.

India again topped the list of countries of origin for international migrants with some 18 million people living abroad. The South Asian country was followed by Mexico, Russian, China, and Syria.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday launched its flagship migration report which reveals a dramatic increase in internal displacement due to disaster, conflict, and violence at a time when global mobility ground to a halt due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The report said international remittance sent by migrants declined to $702 billion in 2020 from 2019's $719 billion, mainly because of the pandemic.

Bangladesh secured eighth in the list of countries with the most remittance inflow with some $21.75 billion. Earlier in 2018, Bangladesh did not make it to the top 10, according to the World Migration Report 2020.  

The top remittance beneficiaries last year were India ($83.15 billion), China ($59.51bn), Mexico ($42.7bn), the Philippines ($34.91bn), Egypt ($29.60b), Pakistan ($26.11bn) and France ($24.48bn). 

"Bangladesh's position as the migrant origin country and remittance receiver is good. Though our remittance flow is currently declining, we have to be careful to keep the flow stable," said Tasneem Siddiqui, founder chair of Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RMMRU).  

"We are still providing unskilled migrants. We have to gradually transform into a skilled migrant supplier, which will increase remittance and decrease exploitation," she added.  

Despite living beyond the country's borders, the Bangladeshi diaspora has continued to play a key role in the country's development, said the IOM report.

The World Bank (WB) estimates that the Bangladeshi population abroad sent home over $18 billion in 2019, with 73% coming from those working in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

These remittances account for over 6% of GDP, representing the country's second-largest source of foreign income.

The efforts by policymakers to encourage and facilitate the sending of remittances have greatly aided the remittance landscape in Bangladesh.

The Central Bank of Bangladesh more than tripled the ceiling on its 2019 cash incentive scheme -- whereby remittance beneficiaries receive a 2% bonus on transfers made using formal systems, up to $5,000.

Additionally, some commercial banks are providing an additional 1% incentive to further increase the attractiveness of sending remittances.

"In 2020, despite the impact of Covid-19 which slowed remittance flows globally, Bangladesh benefitted with $21.75 billion injected into the economy through remittances. Overall, international migration has been a critical part of the development story of Bangladesh, with migrants moving to pursue opportunities for economic and social reasons, and then helping raise the living standards at home," said Fathima Nusrath Ghazzali, IOM Bangladesh's officer-in-charge.

Remittance inflow, however, continued to drop for a six consecutive month in November this year, registering an 18-month low despite an upward trend in the country's trade and commerce outlook following an improved pandemic situation.

The top 5 destinations for migrants are The United States of America, Germany,  Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United Kingdom. 

An unseen paradox

There were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, the IOM report added.

"We are witnessing a paradox not seen before in human history," said IOM's Director General Antonio Vitorino.

"While billions of people have been effectively grounded by Covid-19, tens of millions of displacement events have forced many others from their homes," he added.

The number of air passengers globally dropped 60% in 2020 to 1.8 billion (down from 4.5 billion in 2019), while at the same time internal displacement due to disaster, conflict, and violence rose to 40.5 million (up from 31.5 million in 2019).

"This report is unlike any other edition of the World Migration Report," said Dr Marie McAuliffe, the IOM report editor.

The report said that the number of international migrants has grown from 84 million globally in 1970 to 281 million in 2020, although when global population growth is factored in, the proportion of international migrants has only inched up from 2.3% to 3.6% of the world's population.

The vast majority of people globally (96.4%) reside in the country in which they were born.

Due to the pandemic, the number of international migrants in 2020 was lower, by around two million, than it otherwise would have been.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/national/bangladeshi-migrants-look-to-better-days-as-maldives-tourism-thrives-amid-pandemic-1638682608

Bangladeshi migrants look to better days as Maldives tourism thrives amid pandemic

Published:  December 05, 2021 11:36:48

Shakhawat Hossain fell in trouble after losing his job as the maintenance supervisor at a luxury resort in the Maldives when the coronavirus pandemic put global tourism in a tailspin in 2020.

As the archipelago remains a popular holiday destination despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Bangladeshi man returned to the Maldives on Friday as the resort recalled him after 15 months.

The US-Bangla Airlines plane from Dhaka to Male carried at least 10 other Bangladeshis who have been called back by their employers in the island nation.

With a population of around half a million, the Maldives had some 180,000 Bangladeshi expatriates, including tens of thousands of undocumented workers, living in its islands in 2020, according to a report of the International Labour Organization, bdnews24.com reports.

The number of Bangladeshis in the Maldives varies between 145,000 and 230,000 over time. Workers become undocumented when they leave jobs without the employers’ consent in line with the rules. 

Almost all the hotels, resorts and shops in the Maldivian capital Male have at least one Bangladeshi worker. Bangladeshis also work as drivers, mechanics, electricians or carpenters.

Badal, a Bangladeshi driver from Moulvibazar who works in Male now, can speak Hindi, Maldivian language Dhivehi and Tamil, aside from Bangla, and a little English.

Badal, who gave a single name, returned home after the pandemic hit the global economy. He headed back to the Maldives four months ago as the situation improved.

Kausar, a worker at a clothing shop who also gave a single name, could not return home even after losing his job at the onset of the pandemic because he did not have valid documents. He feared he would not be able to go back to the Maldives if he leaves the country. He later got his job back.

Shakib Prince, a native of Chandpur, lost his job when the owner shut down the restaurant he was working at after the workers, including Shakib, contracted COVID-19. Now he works at a coffee shop after struggling for survival for almost a year.

“I had worked as a housekeeper, or at a corner of a restaurant kitchen for survival. Now the situation has improved. We are getting work again,” said Shakib, adding that he was planning to travel back to Bangladesh in January 2022.    

Nearly 16,000 Bangladeshi migrants returned home from the Maldives in the last nine months of 2020, according to the expatriates’ welfare desk at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. Some 11,500 of them had valid documents, while the others travelled with special permission.

The desk reported that they returned after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

Milon Hossain from Cumilla, who works at a restaurant in Male, said the Bangladeshis who were employed by companies did not lose their jobs despite the pandemic as tourists continued to arrive.

The Maldives saw overall arrivals in the first nine months of 2021 fall just 12 per cent versus the same period of 2019, according to Reuters.

But the Maldives stopped taking workers from Bangladesh in 2019, Milon said.

Bangladeshis who are working illegally in the Maldives after arriving with tourist visa can become legal workers if they apply as a worker of a company, according to him.

He believes strong efforts by the Bangladesh mission in the Maldives will create an opportunity for Bangladeshi workers to travel legally to the archipelago.

“We’ve heard that the prime minister will visit the Maldives. We always say she should talk to the authorities to expand the Maldivian labour market for Bangladeshis, because it is impossible to earn the same amount by working in many other countries.”

Milon sent home Tk 1 million in around two years amid the pandemic.

Remittances from the Maldives more than doubled to $44.74 million in 2019-20 fiscal year from the remittances of 2018-19. The amount slightly rose past $46 million in 2020-21 financial year.

Shariful Islam Hasan, programme head at BRAC Migration, said the government should take quick steps to legalise the undocumented Bangladeshis in the Maldives because they are deprived of fair pay and other rights. The government also needs to work on sending new workers to the Maldives, he said.

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, during his visit to Dhaka to join the celebrations of Bangladesh’s golden jubilee of independence and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in March, urged the government to send doctors and nurses.

Hasina then requested him to legalise the undocumented Bangladeshis.

As the high number of migrants raised the demand for travel between Bangladesh and the Maldives, US-Bangla Airlines last month launched direct flights on the Dhaka-Male route.

US-Bangla Managing Director Abdullah Al Mamun said the airlines has reduced the cost of one-way travel on the route to Tk 25,000 from Tk 65,000 per flight.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/migration/malaysia-needs-6-lakh-foreign-workers-can-bangladesh-benefit-339262

Kamran Siddiqui

05 December, 2021, 10:10 pm

Last modified: 05 December, 2021, 10:18 pm

Malaysia needs 6 lakh foreign workers. Can Bangladesh benefit?

Malaysia is home to around eight lakh Bangladeshis

 

Bangladesh can reap great benefits from Malaysia's requirement for six lakh foreign workers by 2022 if it ensures that the country's labour market reopens for Bangladeshi workers in the coming months.

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), in a statement on Saturday, said the country needs over 600,000 foreign workers by next year in order for the industrial sector, especially export-based companies, to overcome the current acute manpower shortage it is facing, some Malaysian newspapers reported.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has also identified Bangladesh as a second source country for migrant security guards based on an earlier MoU signed between the countries. 

Local manpower recruiters said that if Bangladesh wants to benefit from the labour shortage in Malaysia, it must act fast as the Malaysian labour market has been closed to Bangladesh since 2018.

"Bangladesh and Malaysia have been negotiating to reopen the labour market for the last two years. The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment informed us that the market may reopen within January next year," said Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, former secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira).

If the market reopens, Bangladesh can capitalise on the huge demand for foreign workers, he added.

Malaysia is home to around eight lakh Bangladeshis, according to unofficial estimates.

In Saturday's statement by FMM, its President Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said, "It is feared that if the urgent manpower needs are not addressed quickly, it could derail the recovery of the industries, including their ability to meet their orders in hand and expansion plans." 

He said a survey of manpower demand found a shortage of about 22,000 workers in early October. 

The survey found a shortage of about 14,000 skilled general workers, technicians, mechanics and engineers in the lower/unskilled general labour department. 

Besides, manufacturing and sub-sectors like food and beverages, chemicals and various chemical products, manufactured metals and rubber products had the highest deficit. 

He called for concerted efforts, including structural policy changes, to reduce long-term dependence on foreign workers.

Shahadat Hossain, proprietor, 4-Site International, a recruiting agency, told The Business Standard, "Unskilled workers are more interested in going to Malaysia than the Middle East now due to better work environment and salaries, but we cannot meet the demand as the Malaysian labour market has remained closed."

Earlier, the expat minister had on numerous occasions said the Malaysian labour market would reopen to Bangladesh soon, but it has yet to happen.

The Business Standard tried to contact the minister over phone, but he did not respond. 

Malaysia suspended hiring Bangladeshi workers in September, 2018 over allegations of malpractices in the recruitment process and high recruitment costs.

Malaysia to recruit security guards from Bangladesh

The Malaysian Security Industry Association (PIKM) has identified Bangladesh as a second source country for migrant security guards, following some 30,000 vacancies left by Nepali guards who are currently the only ones allowed to be employed in the profession, reports Malaysiakini, a news portal of Malaysia. 

The PIKM and Bangladesh's Sena Kalyan Sangstha signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday in this regard. 

"Even though Bangladeshis are involved in various jobs in Malaysia, only Nepalis have the opportunity to get jobs as security guards. But the government plans to look at Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines as new source countries to fill vacancies in the security services sector," Ahmadul Kabir, a Bangladeshi journalist based in Malaysia, told TBS over phone. 

"A new horizon will open if job opportunities are created for Bangladeshis. The Bangladesh's Sena Kalyan Sangstha has a recruiting agency, which will send the security guards," he added. 

Kabir also said that the recruitment of the guards was being done under a previous MoU, which was renewed recently. 

"We cannot, however, send the security guards until the labour market formally opens for Bangladesh. As the Malaysian government has renewed the MoU, we expect the labour market to open soon."  

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TBS Report 

10 December, 2021, 05:40 pm

Last modified: 10 December, 2021, 05:41 pm

Malaysia agrees to reopen labour market for Bangladesh 

The Bangladeshi labour market in the East Asian country had been closed since 2018

 

Malaysian authorities have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to resume the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers. 

The Bangladeshi labour market in the East Asian country had been closed since 2018. 

The decision came following a cabinet meeting of Bangladesh's Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry with Malaysian Minister of Human Resources Seri M Saravanan held Friday, reads a media statement. 

The recruitment of Bangladeshi employees will be open for all sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, services, mining, construction and domestic servants. 

Malaysia's Ministry of Human Resources will co-operate with its health ministry and national security council to refine Standing Operating Procedures (SOP) for foreign workers' admission to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

The meeting also agreed to defer the implementation of multi-tier levy from 1 January 2022 to 1 July 2022. 

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade/bangladesh-resumes-sending-workers-to-libya-1639284321

Bangladesh resumes sending workers to Libya

 ARAFAT ARA | Published:  December 12, 2021 10:45:21

Bangladesh has lifted the restriction on sending workers to Libya considering the improved political situation in the war-torn nation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment on Tuesday last in this regard.

In the letter, the foreign ministry gave the nod to remove the earlier restriction of sending workers to Libya, and recommended that the expatriates' welfare ministry start necessary actions to send workers to that job market.

Referring to a letter of the Bangladesh Embassy in Tripoli, dated November 16, 2021, the foreign ministry in its letter said at present the political situation was gradually improving in Libya.

There are a significant number of jobs in Libya, and the demand for Bangladeshi workers is good there.

So, the embassy suggested that the government withdraw the restriction, the foreign ministry letter clarified.

Contacted, Dr Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, secretary of the expatriates' welfare ministry, said the government had withdrawn the restriction on sending workers to Libya.

Now, they will take necessary measures on how to send workers to the country in a safe and secure manner, he said.

Dr Saleheen, however, said there was a good opportunity for employment, especially in the construction sector.

Earlier, in 2012, the government banned sending workers to Libya, taking into consideration the safety issues following political unrest in the North African country.

But a section of manpower workers continued sending workers to that country through unofficial channels, sector insiders said.

On the other hand, human traffickers have been using Libya as a route to send workers to different European countries. In 2020, 26 Bangladeshi migrant workers in captivity were killed by human traffickers in Libya.

Therefore, migrant rights activists expressed concerns that human trafficking might increase with the reopening of sending workers to Libya.

Besides, they were also worried over the political situation there that was not stable.

Shakirul Islam, chairman of the Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), said the overall political situation was not vibrant; so, sending workers to Libya was not safe.

Libya is a popular route for human traffickers, he said, adding that many Bangladeshi workers in different Middle Eastern countries were taken to Libya with the promise of jobs in Europe.

"But their dreams of a better life ended in nightmares," he said.

Human traffickers' rackets have to be brought under punishment; otherwise, the migrant workers will face the same exploitation that many of them experienced earlier, Mr Islam observed.

On the other hand, Ali Haider Chowdhury, former secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), said employment opportunities would increase the following resumption of sending workers.

He also stressed the need for the proper initiative so that safe and orderly migration could be ensured.

A total of 122,495 Bangladeshis had gone to Libya with jobs since1976, according to data from the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.

[email protected]

 

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/remittance-to-exceed-25b-by-end-of-fy22-says-minister-1640001541

Remittance to exceed $25b by end of FY22, says minister

Published:  December 20, 2021 17:59:01

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said that he is hopeful that the country’s remittance will exceed $25 billion by the end of the current fiscal year (FY22), up from the current $21 billion.

“During the two occasions of Eid, we hope our expatriates send huge remittances that will help exceed the last fiscal year’s benchmark”, he said.

The finance minister said this while briefing the outcomes of the consecutive meetings of the two cabinet Committees—Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase and Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Monday.

He noted that in the last fiscal 2020-21, the country’s remittance reached nearly $25 billion, reports UNB.

He admitted that all the economic indicators of the country remained positive except the remittance.

“We’re lagging behind our expectations in remittance earnings. But two Eid festivals will play a big role in boosting the remittance”, he added.

He said the country holds huge potentials to grow economically, but those potentials were not utilised in the right manner.

“In last 12 years, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, we have been able to exploit such potential. That’s why we have succeeded”.

Responding to a question, he said the government prefers the local companies in the contract of supply of electronic devices in the public purchase.

“We want to promote the Made in Bangladesh products in the public procurement”, he said

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/rmg/bangladesh-outdoes-china-vietnam-apparel-export-growth-us-346099

Reyad Hossain

20 December, 2021, 11:30 am

Last modified: 21 December, 2021, 02:58 pm

Bangladesh outdoes China, Vietnam in apparel export growth in US

Bangladesh now ranks third in RMG exports to the US and fetched $5.7 billion from the destination in the first 10 months of 2021

rmg_export_tyo_us.png?itok=g86VSWbq&time

 

Bangladesh has outnumbered China, Vietnam and Indonesia in terms of growth in apparel exports to the United States in January-October this year, with many US buyers shifting orders to the supplier country from the three competitors that are going through production disruptions. 

Bangladesh, which now ranks third in RMG exports to the US, fetched $5.7 billion from the destination in the first 10 months, up by around 27% from the receipts over the same period in 2020, according to the Office of Textiles and Apparel (Otexa). 

China's exports to the US market amounted to $16 billion with a 25% growth, followed by Vietnam 14% and Indonesia 10%. 

On the other hand, four out of six other top US suppliers have registered better growth than Bangladesh. 

Industry insiders say Bangladesh apparel makers have been receiving an additional flow of work orders because of a drastic fall in China's factory outputs fuelled by energy shortages, and pandemic-led supply chain disruptions in Vietnam and Indonesia. 

"Our apparel exports to the US market have kept growing with many US buyers now shifting to us," Mohammad Hatem, executive president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), told The Business Standard.

Buyers' sourcing inquiry from the western country has further paced up. So, exports will go up all the more in the coming months, he said. 

With the reboot of economic activities in the US after the pandemic situation turned the corner, Americans have started releasing pent-up demand, especially for clothing and footwear.

Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, chairman of Research and Policy Integration for Development, said as the pandemic retreated, Americans with cash incentives from their government started spending on things, such as clothing, they were deprived of. So, the country's imports marked a sharp rise. 

In January-October, the US imported nearly $67 billion worth of clothing items, which was 24% more than in the same time a year ago, Otexa data says. 

China's apparel exports to the US might halve in the next five or 10 years, opening up an opportunity for Bangladesh to take a bigger stake in the largest market, Abdur Razzaque noted. 

If Bangladesh takes production costs under control by making business easier, it will take an edge over Vietnam that is expected to put up a tough fight.  

Md Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told TBS, "We could have exported more to the US market. Because of high costs of doing business, many exporters do not take many orders despite having capacity as prices they are getting are not in line with production costs." 

They demand more prices for products if raw material costs go up, but they cannot do so if production costs increase for other reasons, such as logistics, said Shahidullah, also the owner of Classic Fashion Concept Ltd. 

Mohammad Hatem said Bangladesh's export growth in the US market is very good even after paying 16% duty. 

At least if the country's cotton-made garments can be exported to that US market duty free, Bangladesh will see its exports increase significantly.

The top six garment exporters to the US market are India, Mexico, Honduras, Cambodia, Pakistan and Korea.

In the first 10 months this year, India, Mexico, Honduras and Pakistan registered higher export growth than Bangladesh although their exports were lower than Bangladesh's.

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TBS Report

22 December, 2021, 09:40 am

Last modified: 22 December, 2021, 09:51 am

Record exports bring home new hopes 

bangladeshs_overall_export_trend.jpg?ito

 

Despite all the lockdowns, travel restrictions, and pandemic-induced economic downturn, Bangladesh recorded its highest ever single-month export earnings amounting to $4.72 billion this year.

According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, export receipts surpassed the $3.46 billion target set for October, registering a whopping 60.37% year-on-year growth.

Moreover, apparel shipment grew by 53.27% to $3.56 billion year-on-year in the same month, raising the total export earnings to $15.74 billion in the first four months of this fiscal year.

The July-October earnings were 22% higher than $12.84 billion earned in the same period last fiscal year and 13% higher than the set target, bringing home new hopes for a nation that turned 50 a few days back.

The highest earnings, $2.04 billion, came from knitwear shipment, while woven items fetched $1.51 billion, both posting over 52% growth from a year-ago period. 

The October earnings were 13.7% higher than the amount earned in September – made possible thanks to a strong rebound in demand for apparel in western countries and supply disruptions from key competitors.

Meanwhile, export earnings for agricultural products rose by 29.34%. Whereas, for leather and leather products, it rose by 28.85%. 

Export earnings from engineering products saw a growth of 142.49%. 

However, the earnings from jute and jute products dropped by 24.11%. 

Apparel exporters are hopeful of export growth to continue but are concerned about lower unit prices compared to soaring costs of raw materials.

 

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বিদেশে বাংলাদেশী শ্রমিকের চাহিদা বাড়ছে, সীমিত অবকাঠামো দুর্ভোগও বাড়াচ্ছে

মনজুরুল ইসলাম

ডিসেম্বর ২৮, ২০২১

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কভিডের অভিঘাত কাটিয়ে ঘুরে দাঁড়াচ্ছে দেশের জনশক্তি রফতানি খাত। মধ্যপ্রাচ্যসহ বিশ্বের বিভিন্ন দেশে বাংলাদেশী শ্রমিকের চাহিদা বাড়ছে। দক্ষিণ এশিয়ার দেশগুলোর মধ্যে বহির্বিশ্বে এখন বাংলাদেশী শ্রমিকের চাহিদাই সবচেয়ে বেশি। তবে এর মধ্যেও বিমানবন্দরসহ অবকাঠামোগত নানা দুর্বলতায় প্রবাসে গমনেচ্ছু শ্রমিকদের ভোগান্তি বাড়ছে। একই সঙ্গে তত্পর হয়ে উঠেছে দালালসহ প্রতারক নানা চক্র। ক্রমবর্ধমান চাহিদার মধ্যেও এসব দুর্বলতার কারণে সামনের দিনগুলোয় দেশের জনশক্তি রফতানি খাত নিয়ে নানা ধরনের বিড়ম্বনার আশঙ্কা তৈরি হয়েছে বলে মনে করছেন সংশ্লিষ্টরা।

মহামারীর প্রাদুর্ভাবে গত বছর দেশের সবচেয়ে ক্ষতিগ্রস্ত খাতগুলোর অন্যতম ছিল বৈদেশিক জনশক্তি রফতানি খাত। তবে বর্তমানে সে পরিস্থিতি অনেকটাই কাটিয়ে উঠেছে খাতটি। চলতি বছরের নভেম্বর পর্যন্ত শুধু মধ্যপ্রাচ্যেই কর্মী পাঠানো সম্ভব হয়েছে সোয়া চার লাখেরও বেশি। দীর্ঘ কয়েক বছর বন্ধ থাকার পর সম্প্রতি খুলেছে আরেক বৃহৎ শ্রমবাজার মালয়েশিয়া। সবচেয়ে বড় শ্রমবাজার সৌদি আরবও এখন দক্ষিণ এশিয়ার মধ্যে শ্রমিক নিচ্ছে শুধু বাংলাদেশ থেকেই। মধ্যপ্রাচ্যের আরেক দেশ সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাতেও (ইউএই) বাংলাদেশীদের ভিসা পাওয়া এখন আগের চেয়ে অনেক বেশি সহজ হয়েছে। গত মাসেই ১ লাখ ২ হাজার ৮৬৩ কর্মী জনশক্তি কর্মসংস্থান ও প্রশিক্ষণ ব্যুরোর (বিএমইটি) ছাড়পত্র নিয়ে বিদেশে গিয়েছেন, যা করোনা মহামারীর মধ্যে নতুন রেকর্ড। জনশক্তি রফতানিকারক প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলো বলছে, বাংলাদেশ যদি চলমান সুযোগ সঠিকভাবে কাজে লাগাতে পারে, তাহলে জনশক্তি আমদানিকারক দেশগুলোয় আরো কয়েক গুণ কর্মী পাঠানো সম্ভব হবে।

যদিও খাতসংশ্লিষ্টদের অভিযোগ, সম্ভাবনাময় এসব শ্রমবাজারকে কাজে লাগাতে খুব একটা প্রস্তুতি নেই বাংলাদেশের। বাড়তি চাহিদার কারণ দেখিয়ে এয়ারলাইনসগুলো ভাড়া বাড়িয়েছে দ্বিগুণেরও বেশি। এর সঙ্গে রয়েছে অসাধু রিক্রুটিং এজেন্সির প্রলোভন এবং নিয়ন্ত্রণহীন দালাল চক্রের প্রতারণা। সব মিলিয়ে লাগামহীনভাবে বাড়ছে বিদেশগামী কর্মীর অভিবাসন ব্যয়। অন্যদিকে বিমানবন্দরসহ বিভিন্ন অবকাঠামোর দুর্বলতাও প্রতিনিয়ত বিদেশগামী কর্মীদের ভোগান্তি বাড়াচ্ছে। ১০ ডিসেম্বর থেকে হযরত শাহজালাল আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দর সংস্কারকাজের জন্য প্রতিদিন রাত ১২টা থেকে সকাল ৮টা পর্যন্ত সব ফ্লাইট বন্ধ রাখা হচ্ছে। নতুন হাইস্পিড কানেক্টিং ট্যাক্সিওয়ে বানানোর জন্য এ অবস্থা চলবে আগামী ছয় মাস। এতে এক প্রকার বিপর্যয় নেমে এসেছে ফ্লাইট শিডিউল কার্যক্রমেও।

আবার করোনা পরীক্ষার ব্যবস্থা না থাকায় বন্ধ রয়েছে চট্টগ্রাম শাহ আমানত আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দরের আন্তর্জাতিক ফ্লাইট কার্যক্রম। এতে অতিরিক্ত চাপ পড়ছে ঢাকার হযরত শাহজালাল আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দরের ওপর। বিমানবন্দরটিতে যাত্রী চাপ বাড়লেও রাতে কার্যক্রম না চলায় ফ্লাইট বাড়াতে পারছে না এয়ারলাইনসগুলোও।

এদিকে ইউএই সরকারের শর্ত অনুযায়ী গত ২২ সেপ্টেম্বর থেকে যাত্রার ৬ ঘণ্টা আগে বিমানবন্দরে যাত্রীদের করোনা পরীক্ষা করাতে হচ্ছে। বিমানবন্দরে এ কাজে নিয়োজিত প্রতিষ্ঠানের সংখ্যা ৬। এসব প্রতিষ্ঠানের বুথে নমুনা দিতে যাত্রীদের দুর্বিষহ ভোগান্তি পোহাতে হয়। নির্ধারিত সময়ে কভিড-১৯ পরীক্ষার রিপোর্ট না পাওয়ায় প্রায়ই ফ্লাইট ধরতে ব্যর্থ হচ্ছেন প্রবাসী কর্মীরা। রাতে ফ্লাইট বন্ধ থাকায় যাদের সকালে ফ্লাইট রয়েছে, দেশের বিভিন্ন প্রান্ত থেকে তারা অনেকটা বাধ্য হয়ে আগেই এসে উপস্থিত হচ্ছেন বিমানবন্দরে। এমন যাত্রীও পাওয়া যায়, যারা বিমানবন্দরে বাধ্যতামূলক করোনা পরীক্ষা করাতে ফ্লাইটের ১২ ঘণ্টা আগেই সেখানে এসে উপস্থিত হতে বাধ্য হচ্ছেন। দুর্বল ব্যবস্থাপনার কারণে তাদের টার্মিনালেই রাত কাটাতে হচ্ছে।

প্রসঙ্গত, করোনা মহামারীর আগে চট্টগ্রাম শাহ আমানত আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দরে বিমান বাংলাদেশ এয়ারলাইনস, ফ্লাই দুবাই, এয়ার অ্যারাবিয়াসহ আরো কয়েকটি এয়ারলাইনস সরাসরি মধ্যপ্রাচ্যে ফ্লাইট পরিচালনা করত। এসব এয়ারলাইনসের ফ্লাইটে চট্টগ্রাম থেকেই বিদেশগামী কর্মীদের দুবাই, আবুধাবি ও শারজাহ যাওয়ার সুযোগ ছিল। এমনকি ওইসব গন্তব্যে ট্রানজিট নিয়ে সৌদি আরব, কুয়েত, কাতার, ওমানসহ মধ্যপ্রাচ্যের অন্যান্য গন্তব্যেও গিয়েছেন বাংলাদেশী কর্মীরা। বর্তমানে এ বিপুলসংখ্যক যাত্রীর চাপ পড়ছে শাহজালাল বিমানবন্দরের ওপরই।

প্রবাসী কল্যাণ মন্ত্রণালয় ও বিএমইটি সূত্রে জানা গেছে, গত বছর বাংলাদেশ থেকে বিভিন্ন দেশে কর্মী গিয়েছিলেন ২ লাখ ১৭ হাজার ৬৬৯ জন। আর চলতি বছরের (জানুয়ারি-নভেম্বর) ১১ মাসেই তা বেড়ে দাঁড়িয়েছে ৪ লাখ ৮৫ হাজার ৮৯৫ জনে। তাদের মধ্যে শুধু সৌদি আরবেই গিয়েছেন ৩ লাখ ৭০ হাজার ১৪ জন বা ৭৬ শতাংশ। এছাড়া ওমানে ৪০ হাজার ৮৬ জন, সিঙ্গাপুরে ২১ হাজার ৩৩৯, সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাতে ১৪ হাজার ২৭৪, জর্ডানে ১১ হাজার ৮৪৫ ও কাতারে ৯ হাজার ৭২৮ জন কর্মী গিয়েছেন।

বৈদেশিক শ্রমবাজারে প্রবেশ করতে এখনো কর্মীদের নানামুখী ভোগান্তি পোহাতে হচ্ছে। আবার প্রায়ই দেখা যায়, বিদেশ গমনেচ্ছু কর্মীরা প্রয়োজনীয় কাগজপত্র, বিভিন্ন ধরনের পরীক্ষার বিষয়ে যথাযথভাবে অবগত নন। এমনকি সরকারি বিভিন্ন নির্দেশনার ঝক্কিঝামেলা এড়াতে অনেকে দালালের শরণাপন্ন হন। এতে গমনেচ্ছুদের বড় একটি অংশ বিদেশযাত্রা করতে গিয়ে প্রতারণার ঝুঁকিতে পড়েন।

রিফিউজি অ্যান্ড মাইগ্রেটরি মুভমেন্টস রিসার্চ ইউনিটের (রামরু) প্রতিষ্ঠাতা চেয়ারম্যান ও ঢাবির অধ্যাপক ড. তাসনিম সিদ্দিকী বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, প্রবাস গমনেচ্ছু এবং প্রবাসী কর্মীদের অভিবাসনসংক্রান্ত সব ধরনের কাজ মসৃণ হওয়া দরকার, যাতে কর্মীরা ভোগান্তির শিকার না হন। কভিড মহামারীতে প্রবাসীদের কর্মস্থলে ফিরতে যেসব জটিলতা তৈরি হচ্ছে, সেগুলো থেকে সরকারের সংশ্লিষ্ট বিভাগকে প্রয়োজনীয় ব্যবস্থা ও সমাধানের উদ্যোগ নিতে হবে। শ্রমবাজারে বিপুলসংখ্যক কর্মীর জন্য দেশে পর্যাপ্ত অবকাঠামো ও সুযোগ-সুবিধা রয়েছে কিনা, সেগুলোর আগে সমাধান হওয়া জরুরি।

কভিড পরিস্থিতিতে দেশে ফেরা প্রবাসী কর্মীরা কর্মস্থলে ফিরতে সবচেয়ে বড় প্রতিবন্ধকতার সম্মুখীন হচ্ছেন করোনা নেগেটিভ সনদ সংগ্রহে। নানামুখী শর্তের কারণে যথাসময়ে সনদ সংগ্রহ করতে পারছেন না কর্মীরা। বিশেষত বিপুলসংখ্যক কর্মীর বিপরীতে পর্যাপ্ত অবকাঠামোর অভাব ও নির্দিষ্ট কিছু জায়গায় পরীক্ষা করানোয় বিদেশ গমনেচ্ছুদের ভোগান্তি বাড়ছে।

মালয়েশিয়া থেকে ছুটিতে দেশে এসে আটকে পড়া যশোরের শাহীন বলেন, দেড় বছর ধরে বাড়িতে আছি। কর্মস্থল থেকে কাজে যোগ দেয়ার জন্য নির্ধারিত সময় দেয়া হয়েছে। তবে কভিড সনদ সংগ্রহ ও পাসপোর্টের প্রয়োজনীয় বেশকিছু কাগজ পাওয়া নিয়ে দুশ্চিন্তায় রয়েছি। কাগজপত্র সংগ্রহে অন্যদের ভোগান্তি দেখে আমার ভয় বাড়ছে।

মধ্যপ্রাচ্যের শ্রমবাজার, বিশেষ করে সৌদি আরব, সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাত ও ওমানে পুরোদমে চলছে কর্মী রফতানি। আসন সংখ্যার কয়েক গুণ যাত্রী বেড়ে যাওয়ার কারণ দেখিয়ে আকাশপথে অস্বাভাবিক হারে ভাড়া বাড়িয়েছে বাংলাদেশে কার্যক্রম চালানো দেশী-বিদেশী সব এয়ারলাইনস। ট্রাভেল এজেন্সিগুলো জানিয়েছে, গত নভেম্বরেও ঢাকা থেকে সৌদিগামী ফ্লাইটগুলোর একমুখী টিকিট পাওয়া যেত ৪০-৫০ হাজার টাকায়। বর্তমানে তা ৭০ হাজার টাকার নিচে পাওয়াই দুষ্কর। অন্যদিকে ঢাকা-দুবাই রুটের একমুখী ভাড়া বর্তমানে ৮০ হাজার টাকা ছাড়িয়েছে। আর ঢাকা-মাস্কাটের একমুখী ভাড়াও ৭০ হাজার টাকার বেশি। এসব রুটের ভাড়া গত মাসেও ছিল ৪০ হাজার টাকার মধ্যে।

ভুক্তভোগী বিদেশীগামী কর্মীদের অভিযোগ, কৃত্রিম সংকট সৃষ্টি করে এয়ারলাইনসগুলো ভাড়া বাড়িয়েছে। এর আগে কখনো এমন পরিস্থিতি হয়নি। গত অক্টোবরেও ভাড়া অনেক সহনশীল ছিল। মূলত গত মাস থেকেই অস্বাভাবিক হারে ভাড়া আদায় শুরু করেছে এয়ারলাইনসগুলো।

টিকিটের মূল্যবৃদ্ধি ও আসন সংকট নিরসনে বেসামরিক বিমান পরিবহন ও পর্যটন প্রতিমন্ত্রীর কাছে সম্প্রতি চিঠিও দিয়েছে অ্যাসোসিয়েশন অব ট্রাভেল এজেন্সি অব বাংলাদেশ (আটাব)। চিঠিতে আটাব বলেছে, সম্প্রতি দেখা গেছে, মধ্যপ্রাচ্যের বিভিন্ন রুটে টিকিটের দাম অস্বাভাবিক বেড়েছে। এ কারণে প্রবাসী যাত্রীরা বিড়ম্বনার শিকার হচ্ছেন। এভাবে ভাড়া বাড়ানোকে অযৌক্তিক ও অনভিপ্রেত মনে করে আটাব।

আশার বিষয় হলো, চট্টগ্রাম শাহ আমানত আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দরে আগামী ১ জানুয়ারি থেকে করোনা পরীক্ষা শুরু হওয়ার কথা রয়েছে। অনুমোদনপ্রাপ্ত চারটি ক্লিনিক্যাল ল্যাবরেটরি আরটি-পিসিআর পরীক্ষার জন্য এরই মধ্যে বিমানবন্দরের বরাদ্দকৃত স্থানে মেশিন স্থাপনসহ আনুষঙ্গিক প্রস্তুতি নিচ্ছে। এটি শুরু হলে চট্টগ্রাম থেকে আবারো আন্তর্জাতিক ফ্লাইট শুরু হবে বলে প্রত্যাশা করা হচ্ছে।

এ প্রসঙ্গে চট্টগ্রামের বিভাগীয় স্বাস্থ্য পরিচালক ডা. হাসান শাহরিয়ার কবীর জানান, দুবাইসহ ইউএই যাত্রার ক্ষেত্রে ৬ ঘণ্টার মধ্যে আরটি-পিসিআর রিপোর্ট নেয়ার বাধ্যবাধকতা রয়েছে। আবার ইউএইতে এ অঞ্চলের বিপুলসংখ্যক মানুষ কর্মরত। কিন্তু চট্টগ্রাম শাহ আমানত আন্তর্জাতিক বিমানবন্দরে আরটি-পিসিআর রিপোর্ট পাওয়ার সুযোগ না থাকায় এতদিন সবাইকে ঢাকা হয়েই ইউএই যেতে হয়েছে। বিদেশগামীদের ভোগান্তির কথা বিবেচনা করে সরকার ৫ ডিসেম্বর শাহ আমানত বিমানবন্দরে করোনা পরীক্ষার জন্য চারটি বেসরকারি প্রতিষ্ঠানকে অনুমোদন দেয়।

এদিকে বাংলাদেশী কর্মীদের জন্য মালয়েশিয়ার শ্রমবাজার খুলে দেয়ার পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে আশাবাদী হয়ে উঠেছে প্রবাসী কল্যাণ ও বৈদেশিক কর্মসংস্থান মন্ত্রণালয়। বিশ্বের বিভিন্ন দেশে চলতি অর্থবছরে সাত-আট লাখ লোকের কর্মসংস্থানের প্রত্যাশা করা হচ্ছে বলে জানিয়েছেন মন্ত্রণালয় সংশ্লিষ্টরা। মন্ত্রণালয়ের সচিব আহমেদ মুনিরুছ সালেহীন এ প্রসঙ্গে বলেন, কভিড সংক্রমণ কিছুটা নিয়ন্ত্রণে আসার সঙ্গে সঙ্গে ২০২১-২২ অর্থবছরের প্রথম চার মাসেই আড়াই লাখের বেশি কর্মীর কর্মসংস্থান হয়েছে। আমাদের প্রত্যাশা, বিদেশ গমনের এ ধারা অব্যাহত থাকলে এ অর্থবছরে সাত-আট লাখ লোকের বিদেশে কর্মসংস্থান হবে।

তিনি বলেন, মালয়েশিয়ার শ্রমবাজারটি পুনরায় উন্মুক্ত হয়েছে। দেশটির সঙ্গে সমঝোতা স্মারকের মাধ্যমে বিভিন্ন খাতে বহু বাংলাদেশী কর্মীর কর্মসংস্থানের সুযোগ তৈরি হবে। পাশাপাশি গ্রিসের সঙ্গে একটি আগ্রহপত্র স্বাক্ষর হয়েছে। একইভাবে আলবেনিয়া, মাল্টা ও বসনিয়ার সঙ্গেও কর্মী পাঠানোর জন্য চুক্তি স্বাক্ষরের অপেক্ষায় রয়েছে।

প্রসঙ্গত, নতুন শ্রমবাজার হিসেবে কম্বোডিয়া, উজবেকিস্তান, পোল্যান্ড, হাঙ্গেরি, রোমানিয়া, ক্রোয়েশিয়াসহ আফ্রিকা মহাদেশের কয়েকটি দেশ এবং জাপান, সেনেগাল, বুরুন্ডি, সেশেলস, মালয়েশিয়ার সারওয়াকে কর্মী পাঠানো শুরু হয়েছে।

দেশের সবচেয়ে বড় শ্রমবাজার সৌদি আরব। কভিডের কারণে দেশটি বর্তমানে ভারত, পাকিস্তান, নেপাল, শ্রীলংকাসহ বেশ কয়েকটি দেশ থেকে কর্মী নিচ্ছে না। এর বিপরীতে চাহিদা বেড়েছে বাংলাদেশী কর্মীদের। দেশটিতে বেসরকারি খাতে বাংলাদেশী শ্রমিকদের কোটা ৩০-৪০ শতাংশে উন্নীত হয়েছে। প্রতিদিন গড়ে চার হাজার ভিসা দিচ্ছে সৌদি দূতাবাস। গত নভেম্বরে নতুন প্রবাসী কর্মী হিসেবে বিএমইটির ছাড়পত্র নিয়ে কেবল সৌদি আরবেই গেছেন ৭১ হাজার ৭২৫ জন বাংলাদেশী কর্মী।

মধ্যপ্রাচ্যের আরেক দেশ ইউএই বাংলাদেশীদের জন্য ভিসাপ্রাপ্তি এখন অনেক সহজ করেছে। নিয়মিত প্রবাসী কর্মীর পাশাপাশি ভ্রমণ ভিসায়ও দেশটিতে বাংলাদেশী কর্মীদের গমন বেড়েছে।

 

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