February 24, 2024, 3:40 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-12-06 15:00:51 BdST

Dhaka, Ctg feast on remittance, other areas starve

The high concentration of remittance in Dhaka and Chattogram divisions underscores the need to address regional disparities for a more inclusive and balanced distribution. 

Bangladesh received $6.88 billion in remittances between July and October in FY24. Dhaka and Chattogram collectively accounted for 76.45% of the figure, the Bangladesh Bank data shows.   

In this period, Dhaka received $3.33 billion, Chattogram $1.93 billion, and Sylhet $773.1 million. Moreover, the share of Khulna was 3.97%, Rajshahi 3.04%, Barishal 2.44%, Mymensingh 1.79%, and Rangpur 1.21%.

The dominance of Dhaka and Chattogram reflects regional imbalances in economic opportunities and development, say experts. They suggest implementing targeted policies to address the disparities. 

The final Population and Housing Census 2022 report said 50,53,358 Bangladeshis live abroad. Chattogram accounts for the highest share (40.61%) of expats, followed by Dhaka (28.32%), Sylhet (11.34%), Khulna (6.07%), Rajshahi (5.33%), Mymensingh (3.05%), Barishal (3.00%), and Rangpur (2.28%). 

On the other hand, the total number of remittance-receiving households is 39,50,155. Chattogram has the highest proportion (41.64%), followed by Dhaka (35.24%), Sylhet (6.67%), Khulna (5.28%), Rajshahi (4.94%), Barishal (3.19%), Mymensingh (1.85%), and Rangpur (1.19%).

Zahid Hussain, former lead economist at the World Bank’s Dhaka office, said Dhaka and Chattogram residents have historically been at the forefront of migration, especially to the Middle East. 

The influence of family members who are already abroad plays a crucial role in why others want to follow suit, with increased information and communication with the former acting as catalysts, he said.

Explaining why Rangpur has lower representations of remittance-receiving families, he said, “Rangpur residents are poorer than those of Dhaka and Chattogram. As their income is lower, they have fewer chances to pursue opportunities abroad.”

The higher cost of migration compared to other South Asian countries, coupled with substantial fees paid to brokers, is a challenge for those who are not well-off, the economist explained.

Zahid stresses the importance of supporting backward districts like Rangpur for their progress. He suggested providing financial assistance for families, particularly in the form of collateral-free loans, adding the Bangladesh Bank could play a role in that.

He also emphasised collaborations between the government and the private sector, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to address the challenges faced by the less-developed regions.

According to him, an online platform should be created to provide individuals with updated information on foreign job markets. This could empower potential migrants with knowledge, reducing dependency on intermediaries, he says. 

The economist also underscores the potential economic role individuals from backward districts can play if they are upskilled and sent abroad. “This not only contributes to the country's economy but also aids in regional development and increases remittances.”

Mohammed Monirul Moula, managing director and chief executive officer of Islami Bank, said people from Dhaka and Chattogram who reside abroad are mainly involved in business. “They can send more remittances than others. Many expats from Chattogram do business in cities like Mecca and Medina.”

Job-based migrations are relatively high from Cumilla and Noakhali but the money they send home is not as high compared to migrants from Dhaka and Chattogram because the latter mostly does business, the banker said.  

Remittance inflows to Bangladesh in November rose by 21% year-on-year, standing at $1.93 billion. The rise is attributed to most banks offering higher US dollar rates. Banks are applying this strategy to boost foreign reserves.

During the July-November period in FY24, remittance inflows were $8.81 billion. The country received remittances of $21.61 billion in FY23, $21.03 billion in FY22, $24.77 billion in FY21, and $18.2 billion in FY20. 

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