Lisbon Mission holds an exchange of views with expatriates on increasing remittance from Portugal to Bangladesh.

Report By Humayun Kabir from Lisbon, Portugal, Bangladesh Embassy arranged a session of exchange of views with the members of the Bangladeshi expatriate community in Lisbon today on December 7, 2022, on ways to increase remittance from Portugal to Bangladesh. The session was held at the auditorium of the Chancery building of the Embassy. Leaders, businessmen, entrepreneurs, journalists and other members of the Bangladeshi community from Lisbon, Porto and other parts of Portugal attended the session.

At the outset of the session, Bangladeshi expatriates were invited to express their ideas and recommendations on how to enhance the flow of remittance to Bangladesh through legal channels. Several community leaders, businessmen and general expatriates spoke. The speakers expressed the feeling of satisfaction that expatriates had been playing a role in the socio-economic development of Bangladesh through their remittance. The speakers also acknowledged the importance of sending their remittances through banking channels.

The speakers, at the same time, stressed the need of recognizing the contribution of the expatriates to the economy of Bangladesh. They also demanded the removal of harassment and constraints that the expatriates face at the airports of Bangladesh and asked for more funding for expatriate’s dead body repatriation and financial assistance for needy expatriates & their families on their return to Bangladesh. Remarking that expatriates contribute to the building of foreign currency reserves in Bangladesh, some speakers called on the Bangladesh government to keep an eye on the reserve lest it is leaked or wasted. As regards increasing remittance to Bangladesh, some speakers urged expatriate Bangladeshi businessmen to recruit more Bangladeshi workers in their businesses. They also felt the need for a form of a Bangladeshi business association in Portugal. If formed, the association could play a critical role in pursuing their interests with the Portuguese authorities, they remarked. Some speakers also indicated that a ceiling set by the Portuguese government on the amount of remittance in a given period of time is a hindrance to the remittance of bigger amounts through the banking channel. They requested the Embassy to take up this matter with the Portuguese government to relax this ceiling.

Ambassador Tarik Ahsan, in his speech, commended the Bangladeshi expatriates for sending to their dear ones in Bangladesh their hard-earned money that also helps the development of the nation. He acknowledged their contribution to the economy of Bangladesh, particularly in maintaining an external balance of payment.

Ambassador Tarik mentioned that Bangladesh was currently the seventh-largest remittance-receiving country in the world. He said that, although Bangladesh received 24.78 billion USD in the financial year 2020-21, it was reduced to 21.03 billion USD in the last financial year 2021-22. He further indicated that, in the current financial year, remittance flow declined in September and October, but picked up again in November. He remarked that, if the remittance-to-GDP ratio of Bangladesh, which is now 6%, could be at par with that of some of her neighbours, which is at least 9 %, Bangladesh’s annual remittance could reach 40 billion USD. He called upon Bangladesh’s expatriate community to come forward to make Bangladesh a top remittance-receiving country in the world and make Portugal a significant remittance-sending country to Bangladesh.

Ambassador regretted that sending remittances through non-banking channels helps money laundering from Bangladesh to foreign countries. He also remarked that transactions through illegal channels may give a better rate, but ultimately it does not benefit the recipients much. He argued that such illegal transactions lead to a shortage of hard currency and consequent devaluation of the Bangladeshi Taka, which leads to an increase in the cost of living in the country.

He said that the Bangladesh government has taken many steps to encourage remittance through banking channels. If necessary, more measures would be taken. However, he also stressed the need of consciousness of the expatriates to accept a little sacrifice in terms of lower rates of exchange for the greater interest of the nation. He said that the proposals received from the earlier speakers had been duly noted for sincere efforts for resolution by the Embassy and assured that those beyond the scope of the Embassy would be forwarded to the appropriate authorities in Bangladesh.

The Ambassador said that the aftermath of covid19 pandemic, Ukraine War and sanctions have caused a crisis of price rise of food, energy and raw materials worldwide. Bangladesh is not aloof from this global crisis. He expressed the resolve that the resilient people of Bangladesh including the expatriates, under the far-sighted leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will overcome the challenges and make Bangladesh come out stronger.

Ambassador declared that the Embassy of Bangladesh in Lisbon would like to honour the remittance senders of Portugal through a programme of conferring accolades on some remittance senders selected on the basis of some criteria. After the discussion session, Bangladeshi snacks and tea were served to the expatriates.


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