Migration experts claim budget shows expatriates not a priority for government
The government is going to provide 2% incentive on money remitted by expatriate Bangladeshis from the FY2019-20 onwards.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, while presenting the budget on behalf of Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Thursday, stated that the incentive will only be applicable for money sent into the country through legal channels.
According to Bangladesh Bank, the country received remittance worth $15.06 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year (FY2018-19). In May, Bangladesh received $1.76 billion—the highest amount of monthly remittance till now.
The prime minister said Bangladesh's remittance inflow in FY2005-06 was $4.9 billion, which tripled to reach $15 billion in 2018. She proposed allocating Tk3,060 crore for the incentives.
Expatriates to get life insurance facility
Prime Minister Hasina also unveiled a plan to provide life insurance facilities for expatriates as they, and their families often find themselves in a complex situation after any workplace accidents.
She said expatriate Bangladeshi workers and their families often incur financial losses due to accidents, and various other causes as there are no insurance facilities available to them.
"Preparations have been taken to bring the expatriate workers under the insurance scheme, which will be implemented shortly," she added.
Migration experts claim expatriates' welfare not a priority for government
Marina Sultana, director (Program) of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), said: "This budget does not reflect anything about the economic reintegration, healthcare and overall welfare of returning and migrant workers."
Despite praising the incentives for remittance, migration experts claimed overall welfare and development of expatriates have been ignored again.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) Chairman Sharikul Islam said, it was unfortunate that despite an overall increase in the national budget, allocation for the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment has gone down.
Budget allocation for the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment has gone down from Tk596 crore to Tk591 crore.
"The government has reduced budget allocation for the ministry that is supposed to work for the welfare of expatriates," said Sharikul, adding: "We had recommended to allocate at least 2% of the [$15 billion] remittance earned this year for the welfare program. Instead, the ministry's budget allocation was reduced."
Regarding the government's plan to provide life insurance facility to expatriates, Sharikul said: "We have heard of many such facilities to be provided to migrant workers, but they were never implemented."
However, if implemented, this would be "a relief for the migrant workers," he added.
Jasiya Khatun, director of WARBE Development Foundation, said that since it was the ministry's job to provide services to expatriates living abroad, budget reduction of an already understaffed ministry would harm the migrant workers.
Read the full budget speech for FY20 here.