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The Role of Expatriates in Socio-Economic Development – Daily Times

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The economy of Bangladesh is gradually improving. As a result of the increase in the country’s GDP, the per capita income has increased and the standard of living is improving as compared to before. Although the economic momentum has been somewhat hampered in the past few years due to the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine, we hope to overcome these obstacles soon.

The development of the garment industry and the increase in expatriate income are playing a major role in the economic development of Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s garment exports in 2020 were around Tk 333,500 crores, which is 7.56 per cent of the GDP of that period. In 2021, the total income received by expatriates in Bangladesh was about Tk 2 lakh 33 thousand 200 crores, which is 5.28 per cent of the GDP. In 2022, the amount of expatriate income in the country was Tk 222,600 crore, which is 4.55 per cent of the GDP. In 2021, Bangladesh was the seventh largest expatriate income earner in the world. Bangladesh receives maximum expatriate income from countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and America, Kuwait, the United Kingdom etc. In the fiscal year 2019-20, Bangladesh received repatriation income of Tk 42,451 crore, Tk 26,200 crore and Tk 25,476 crore respectively from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and America. According to a survey, 17.39 per cent of the total expatriate income received in Bangladesh is spent on land purchase, 33.45 per cent is used for investment and 13.74 per cent is saved.

The image of the rural economy is changing due to remittances sent by expatriates.

The number of Bangladeshi diasporas in different countries of the world is about 13 million. According to data collected in 2020, about 25,000 expatriates live in Saudi Arabia, 1.2 million in the United Arab Emirates, and about 1 million in the United Kingdom. In the months of October, November and December 2022, the highest expatriate income of Tk 10,250 crore came from America and about Tk 9,650 crore came from Saudi Arabia. A large amount of expatriate income has come from America as a result of relations with relatives of Bangladeshi expatriates in America. Skilled and unskilled workers are going to different countries of the world from Bangladesh. About 5 crore people of Bangladesh are directly or indirectly benefiting from expatriate income. In 2019, about 7 lakh workers from the country went to different countries of the world. In 2021, its number was about 540 thousand. About 75 per cent of migrant workers belong to the unskilled class. More than 90 per cent of the workers who went abroad in these two years went to Saudi Arabia and Oman. Most of the unskilled workers going abroad are residents of the Comilla and Bahmanbaria districts.

Analysing various information and data, it can be seen that most of the Bangladeshi expatriates staying in various countries of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, belong to the unskilled labour class. Their hard-earned money is mainly spent on household expenses. Our rural economy is flourishing with the money they send. For example, it was surprising to see that 15-20 years ago, there was not much to mention in the markets in various districts in Bangladesh. Now AC, fridges, mobile phone sets etc. are being sold in that market. Various types of luxury products, including foreign cosmetics, are being sold in large sweet shops, confectioneries etc. The image of the rural economy is changing due to remittances sent by expatriates. The demand for luxury goods is also increasing and the standard of living is increasing.

There are a large number of Bangladeshis in the United States, United Kingdom, and European countries. Expatriates who are financially able to invest heavily in the country live in these countries. Many Bangladeshis living in England, America, etc., who have been staying in those countries for a long time, have already sold their properties in Bangladesh or are showing interest in selling them. As a result, Bangladesh’s relationship with the next generation will gradually decrease and this may lead to a decrease in expatriate income in the country. Bangladeshi expatriates who are employed and engaged in other work are more interested in buying property in England than buying property in the country. Job seekers are losing interest in investing money in the country due to a lack of trusted people, bureaucratic complications, recent events etc. On the other hand, many businesses minded people are showing interest in investing in Bangladesh as a fast-growing economy. For example, Rose View Hotel in Sylhet city, Grand Sylhet Hotel, The Palace Resort located in Bahubal in Habiganj, Baraka Power Limited Company in Sylhet, various resorts, shopping malls, various hospitals, etc., have a lot of investment by expatriates in England. To strengthen the economy of Bangladesh, various steps should be taken to increase investment and to increase the image of the country by making the rich people staying in America and England interested in entertainment in the country.

It is necessary to motivate the expatriates in investing by taking up various business ventures for potential entrepreneurs staying in the country. It will increase the relationship between expatriates and the next generation of expatriates in the country. Proper utilization of remittances through expatriates should be ensured. Unnecessary and excessive expenditure needs to be curtailed. Expatriate asset maintenance and oversight issues, lack of trusted individuals and reluctance to take business risks are major issues. Investment sectors need to be identified to increase expatriate investment. Many expatriates of the current generation do not get much encouragement from relatives and acquaintances when they want to come to the country. Expatriates have contributed a lot to various welfare and religious activities.

Diaspora is one of the driving forces of our economy. Identifying the problems of expatriates and eliminating them requires proper planning and proper implementation. Thanks to the ex-pats. Because, the hard-earned money sent by them is strengthening the society, city-centred economy, and village-centred economy. Not only sending money but your well-thought-out opinion and guidance are necessary for our spiritual-economic-social development.

The writer is a Dhaka-based activist, researcher and freelance columnist with a particular interest in international issues.

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