Coronavirus: Bangladesh set to see a sharp fall in its remittance inflow



Amid slump in export earnings, experts say another big shock lies ahead for Bangladesh economy as its remittance inflow, the life line for many rural families, is likely to shrink significantly in the coming months as a coronavirus fallout.

They said almost all the destinations of Bangladeshi migrant workers from where they send money back home are grappling with coronavirus prevalence, halting economic activity with the closure of most business establishments and shops, leaving the wage earners at lurch and their incomes dwindling.

Under the circumstances, the experts said, those migrant workers already returned home may add to the growing unemployment rolls while many of those staying abroad may face problem to get work due to the slowdown in the economic activity, bringing down the revenues of the wage earners.

Talking to media, some migrant workers said they are going through a tough time with almost no income and surviving now on borrowed money.

Even, Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal recently feared that the coronavirus might affect the country’s economy and its growth in multiple ways.

He also observed that the remittance inflow is likely to fall as many wage earners have returned home in the wake of coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

The decline in remittance will not only hit the country’s foreign exchange reserves but also threaten the livelihoods of millions of rural families that depend on the migrant workers for their livelihoods.

Over 10 million Bangladeshis who stay in different countries remitted $18.32 billion last year swelling the country’s foreign reserve.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has long been the largest source of remittances, followed by the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Iraq, Singapore, Malaysia, the US and the UK.

According to Bangladesh Bank data, the country received $2.58 billion remittance from Saudi Arabia in the last eight months of the current fiscal year while $3.11 billion in 2018-19 fiscal.

Bangladesh also got $1.74 billion from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), $996.11 million from Kuwait, $814.05m from Oman and $739.38m from Qatar, in the last eight months of the current fiscal.

Besides, the country received $ 1.53 billion remittance from the USA, $987.28 million from the UK, $869.70m from Malaysia, $547.16m from Italy, $312.41m from Singapore and $37.54 million from Germany during the same period,” the central bank data showed.

But most of these countries are now witnessing economic slowdown due to of coronavirus shutdown, causing a worry for wage earners.

Contacted, former caretaker government finance adviser Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam said remittance inflow was well in the last eight months. “But it’s declining from January following the coronavirus outbreak. As the UK, the USA, Italy, Spain and some Middle East countries are affected by the coronavirus, the remittance may fall further in the coming months.”

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