Remittance: Govt to take no fee

newsimageBangladeshi migrant workers will be able to send home their hard-earned money free of cost likely from July as the government has made a move to boost the remittance inflow. In the next budget, Tk 500 crore to TK 700 crore might be allocated to bear the cost of remittance transfer, according to finance ministry officials. As remittance fell drastically recently, the government is taking initiatives to encourage expatriates to send money through banking channels. From a meeting at the finance ministry on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a set of directives on providing incentives to expatriate Bangladeshis. Finance Minister AMA Muhith and top officials of the ministry participated in the meeting for discussing the next national budget. Yesterday, at a pre-budget view-exchange meeting with economic reporters at his secretariat office, Muhith said the prime minister had directed the ministry to ensure that the expatriate Bangladeshis do not have to pay for sending money home. As per the PM's directives, the ministry will take initiatives in the next budget, he added. The minister also said the remittance inflow dropped as the income of the expatriates fell in the Middle East countries this year. Besides, many migrant workers are making some savings abroad instead of sending the whole of their income. Remittance from expatriates is one of the main pillars of Bangladesh economy. Though manpower export is on the rise, remittance is on the decline. In 2015-16, it went down by 2.52 percent from the previous fiscal year. In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, it fell by around 17 percent. Last week, a five-member committee was formed from a high-level meeting held at the finance ministry. It would make recommendations to the government in the next two weeks about how the incentives would be given to the migrants. Earlier, as per the finance minister's directives, a two-member team of Bangladesh Bank visited several countries, including those in the Middle East, to find out the causes of decrease in remittance inflow. The team submitted a report to the finance ministry. It found that expatriates have experienced a fall in their income in the Middle Eastern countries. Besides, they are sending money home through hundi, an unauthorised way of money transaction. The unofficial exchange rate is much higher than the official rate. The cost of sending money through the official channel is also higher than in hundi. According to Dilip Ratha, a migration and remittance expert of World Bank, international migrants have to bear high charges of remitting money. The global average cost of sending $200 remained flat at 7.45 percent in the first quarter of this year. The rate is significantly higher than the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of 3 percent.