There is so much more we could do to boost remittance earnings
Remittance is the second-highest source of foreign currency earnings for Bangladesh, second only to the ready-made garments industry.
However, in terms of net earnings, remittance can be considered the highest, since a large portion of RMG earnings need to be spent on raw materials.
As such, there is no way to underestimate the importance of remittance earnings in the growth of the Bangladeshi economy.
The good news on the remittance front in the new year is that in 2018, a total of $15.57 billion was sent home by Bangladeshi expatriates, some $2.04bn higher than the 2017 figure, and this increase is nothing if not significant.
Now that the central bank has strengthened its surveillance against hundi, official remittance numbers could look even brighter in the future, as fewer and fewer workers abroad will be turning to illegal channels to send their money.
Having said that, there is so much more we could do to boost remittance earnings.
One way is to help migrant workers and prospective migrant workers access information, and making the whole process easier, safer, and free of harassment from unscrupulous middlemen; to that end, the migrant portal is a worthy initiative.
There are costs, both monetary and non-monetary, to sending remittance, and it is crucial that such costs are reduced.
Developing the skills of migrant workers should also be one of our main goals, because right now, most workers being sent abroad from Bangladesh are largely unskilled and untrained.
Bangladesh is at a crucial point in its development story, and a healthy remittance stream will, no doubt, play a major part in helping us reach our economic goals.