The economy of the country has seen a breakthrough in fifty years after independence. Bangladesh is at the forefront of economic and social indicators, leaving neighboring countries behind. Bangladesh is seen as a model for the economic development of many less developed countries in the world. The Russia-Ukraine war has left the world economy in turmoil after the pandemic coronavirus hit Damama. Poor and low-income countries suffer the most.
The sanctions imposed by the war had a negative impact on the developed countries of Europe as well. They are in danger of recession. However, the economy of Bangladesh is in a comfortable position. Exports and remittances of the country are working as the main driving force behind this economic balance. In order to advance these sectors, science-based planning and its proper implementation is the demand of time.
The garment sector accounts for the majority of the country’s total exports. Besides, remittances have a huge contribution in earning foreign exchange and creating domestic demand. This sector has contributed to poverty alleviation, employment and empowerment of people at the grass root level. There are several challenges for the country’s economy in the future. We do not know how long the infection and effects of the coronavirus will last. It is also uncertain when the Russia-Ukraine war will end, and when the global economic instability caused by the anti-Moscow actions and sanctions of the United States and the European Union will end over the Ukraine issue.
Besides, Bangladesh has already entered the list of developing countries. As a result, there will not be many global trade benefits in the future. And to deal with this situation, it is important to ensure specific planning, efficient manpower, optimal use of technology, equitable distribution and good governance.
Garment industry is the main driving force of Bangladesh’s foreign exchange earnings. Currently, Bangladesh is second only to China in the export of ready-made garments in the world. This product has given the world ‘Made in Bangladesh’ fame. This labor intensive industry has provided direct employment to nearly half a million people. Despite the impact of Corona and the war in Europe, the export income of the country has been a record in the last financial year.
Entrepreneurs have exported products worth more than 52 billion dollars in the last financial year 2021-22. Among the exported products, the export earnings of ready-made garments amounted to 42.61 billion dollars, which is 82 percent of the total export earnings and 35.47 percent higher than the previous fiscal year. And the income from this sector is 21.25 percent more than the target.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the export revenue target for the last financial year was $4,350 million. Revenue was $5,208 million, which was about 20 percent higher than the target and about 34 percent higher than the previous fiscal year. In the financial year 2020-21, the amount of export income was 3 thousand 875 crore 83 lakh dollars.
The positive trend of the country’s exports continues in the first two months of the current financial year. The year-on-year export growth of the last two months has been more than 25 percent. Mainly due to increase in price of raw materials, increase in cost of transportation of goods and many orders from China shifted to Bangladesh, there has been a big growth in exports.
Compared to the same period last year, exports have increased to $4.61 billion this year. The export income of the country has increased by almost 36 percent in the recently concluded month of August. Readymade garments, home textiles, leather and jute products and several other products have contributed greatly to this.
Until the eighties, 50 percent of the country’s total exports were jute and jute products. After that, leaving jute behind, the journey of garment industry began. The number of factories was 47 in 1982 and 587 in 1985, and 2,900 in 1999 and currently more than 5,000 factories. In 1983-84, export earnings from the apparel sector were $9.9 billion, which was 3.89 percent of the total export earnings at that time. But as an average of the last ten years, 83 percent of the total export income is coming from this sector.
The expansion of the garment industry created new entrepreneurial teams. Those who have developed a strong private sector in manufacturing. Private entrepreneurs have developed by the hands of this sector. They started the business with garments but later transitioned into other industries. As a result, the garment industry has become the backbone of the development of the national economy.
However, there is an opportunity to use this industry on a larger scale. A significant number of educated and skilled manpower is essential for this labor intensive industry through proper planning. Workers, designers, merchandisers, product developers and managers are needed. But there is still a considerable lack of initiatives and efforts to develop skilled human resources for the garment industry in the country. There is no curriculum related to garment industry in the school curriculum of the country. The scope of study on textiles in universities is very limited. As a result, skilled manpower including designers in the clothing sector has to be brought from abroad.
Remittances sent by expatriate Bangladeshis are working as oxygen for the country’s economy in the ongoing global crisis after exports. Remittances have been making a significant contribution to the country’s economy since independence. Employment, foreign exchange earnings, poverty alleviation, food security, rural infrastructural development, education and living standards of the people have been one of the driving forces. According to World Bank data, Bangladesh ranks among the top seven in the world in terms of foreign employment and expatriate income. According to the Bangladesh Expatriate Welfare and Foreign Employment Ministry and Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), more than one crore Bangladeshis are working in different countries of the world since 1976. Remittances are mainly sent by low-educated expatriates, who earn money by pouring blood into various countries including the Middle East. He is sending the money earned through inhuman physical labor to his family in the country. As a result of which the wealth of the family increases as well as the reserve of the state increases.
Currently Bangladeshi workers are working in 168 countries of the world. From 1976 to June 2022, the total export of manpower was 1 crore 42 lakh 49 thousand 679 people. 6 lakh 15 thousand 518 people have been exported till July this year. A maximum of 4 lakh 57 thousand 227 Bangladeshi workers went to Saudi Arabia in 2021 which is 74 percent of the Bangladeshi workers who went abroad that year. The Middle East has long been one of the main and well-known labor markets of Bangladesh.
Basically remittance is used in four sectors. These are – maintenance of expatriate family members, repayment of debts, investments and joint-insurance. According to a Global Economic Prospects report, 56 percent of remittances in Bangladesh come through informal channels. However, the good news is that in recent times the rate of remittances sent through formal channels has increased as a result of rural infrastructure development.
According to the 2016 Khana survey, 8.27 percent of Khanas have at least one member who is a diaspora immigrant. The rate of migration is higher from villages than from cities. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics 2019 report, 68.44 percent of remittance money is spent on buying daily commodities in villages. 27.98 percent in various investments, 2.13 percent in various durable goods and rest in savings. Immigrant families invest more in education or health. As a result, remittances play a role in education, skills and human resource development in the long term.
In the last financial year (2021-22), expatriates sent remittances of $21.03 billion. In the previous fiscal year, remittances came in at $24.77 billion. Remittances declined slightly in the last financial year due to restrictions imposed in various countries due to the pandemic coronavirus. However, the positive trend has returned in the first two months of FY 2022-23.
According to the data of Bangladesh Bank, the remittance received last month was 203 crore 80 million dollars. And 209 million dollars came in July. That is, in the first two months of the current fiscal year, more than 413 million dollars of remittances have come.
The government’s decision to extend the timely incentives to increase remittances undoubtedly deserves appreciation. Earlier this incentive was 2 percent, but from the first day of 2022 it has been increased to 2.5 percent. Still, Hundi’s influence is not diminishing. Recently, a government minister said that 41 percent of remittances sent by expatriates come through Hundi. The amount of which is 862 million dollars. That is, the country has been deprived of 862 million dollars. Undoubtedly mind-blowing information. The government should work to encourage expatriates to remit money legally.
These expatriate Bangladeshis, who play an important role in keeping the country’s economy strong, do not get proper appreciation. These low-educated ‘remittance warriors’ were subjected to extreme neglect and harassment at various places including the airport. Dreaming of high salaries and a royal lifestyle, huge sums of money are snatched away by talking about passports, police clearances, medical examinations, visas, immigration and air fares, etc.
These simple people go abroad and spend a lot of time. After a long exile, when they set foot on the soil of the country, deprivation and contempt began. The first shock comes after getting off the plane. They are considered as third class citizens. Strict measures should be taken to stop these harassments at the airport. After returning to the country proper measures should be taken for the rehabilitation of expatriates. Remittance fighters should be made more acceptable at the state and societal levels.