Tapping Untapped Rural Resources in Bangladesh

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Introduction:
The importance of foreign remittances in the economy of Bangladesh is widely recognized and requires little reiteration. Along with the readymade garment (RMG) sector and non-farm activities in the agricultural sector, remittances have been identified as one of the three key factors that have been responsible for reducing the overall incidence of poverty in Bangladesh. The volume of remittances from Bangladeshi migrant workers exceeded USD 10 billion in 2011 , a figure which dwarfs the amount of yearly foreign direct assistance received by the country. But unfortunately most of the amount of the reserved remittance is used in non-productive investment. So it is quintessential for us that we find ways to utilize this huge amount of resource we currently have.

Objective:
The objective of this paper is to find out useful and effective means for tapping these untapped remittances and using these in new entrepreneurial ventures to bolster the domestic economy of the country.

Current Context of Remittance in Bangladesh
Who is sending remittances? International remittances are sent mainly by three large, but distinct types of migrant. Firstly, there is an important, mainly American and British, Diasporas of well-educated, high or middle income earners. Secondly, Diasporas of Bangladeshi origin belonging to the low-income or unemployed segments of the population also exists in industrialized countries. Thirdly, there is a major group of migrant laborers, who are residing for a specific period of time in Middle Eastern (mainly Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait), South-East Asian (Malaysia, Singapore) and some industrialized countries. The first two groups amount to more than a million emigrants, while in the last 29 years about 3.8 million Bangladeshis have been officially recorded as migrant laborers.

What is the volume of remittances? Between 1976 and 2002 Bangladesh received US$ 30,400 million in official remittances. In the last years official remittances have increased to approximately US$ 12 billion annually. Most international remittances come from the Middle East and thus from temporary migrant workers. Saudi Arabia accounts for more than 40 per cent. The diaspora also takes a large share, with the USA accounting for 14 per cent of the remittance flow. Besides official channels, money is remitted by hundi or hand carried by the migrant or friends or family of the migrant. These informal channels probably equal the amount sent by formal channels. The former are often quicker, cheaper (also in terms of exchange rate), easier, more accessible and more confidential than the latter. However, they can also be less reliable.

The remittance market of Bangladesh has been showing a steady growth in terms of incoming remittance volume. According to the article mentioned above, in the first 10 months of FY 2006-07, number of manpower export stood at 0.42m, showing 83.14% rise, compared to 0.25m in FY2004-05 [7]. In FY2005-06, the number stood at 0.29m, current year to year growth is around 16% [7]. In addition to achieving higher export earnings, the country witnessed a 44 percent growth in remittance earnings during the first quarter of 2008-09 fiscal year compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year [11]. The other records of remittance earnings in a single month are $820.71 million in July and $808.72 million in March of year 2008[11]. A total of 9,81,102 Bangladeshi people went abroad in 2007-08 fiscal year which is about 74 percent above the previous fiscal year figure, Bangladesh Bank statistics [1] show[11]. According to the statistics, on monthly average basis more than 81,000 Bangladeshis went abroad in 2007-08 fiscal year. The figure was 46,000 in the previous fiscal year [11]. Non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) sent $2.345 billion to Bangladesh between J uly and September of 2008, according to the Bangladesh Bank statistics.

What are remittances used for? From...
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