Page last updated at 22:33 GMT, Sunday, 6 September 2009 23:33 UK

Expats boost Bangladesh economy

By Anbarasan Ethirajan
BBC World Service

Bangladeshi migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur
There are large numbers of Bangladeshi workers in Kuala Lumpur

The amount of money sent home by Bangladeshis living abroad has reached a new record high, according to the Central Bank of Bangladesh.

In August, the total sum of money sent home reached a historic peak of $937m - up 30% from a year ago.

The boost to the Bangladeshi economy comes despite the global recession hitting overseas jobs.

Remittances are the country's second-highest revenue earner after exports.

Blue collar

There are an estimated 6.5 million Bangladeshis living and working abroad, mainly in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

This shows that the global recession has had little impact on the flow of remittance to Bangladesh
Ziaul Hasan Siddiqui,

Central Bank of Bangladesh

Millions at home are dependent on money sent by their expatriate relatives - money that has been credited for the decline in poverty in the country.

"This is the highest monthly remittance we have received in our history," said Ziaul Hasan Siddiqui, deputy governor of the Central Bank.

"The figure also shows that the global recession had little impact on the flow of remittance to Bangladesh although job opportunities in the major markets have declined in recent months."

Many other countries have reported a sharp decline in remittances during the economic downturn.

But analysts say many Bangladeshis are in low-end jobs and so the recession has not hit them as hard as it has affected blue collar workers.

The increase in remittances could also be partly due to two upcoming religious occasions - the Muslim festival of Ramadan and the major Hindu religious celebration of Durga Puja.

However, the upward trend may not continue for long, as overseas employment has fallen in past months due to declining demand. The flow of migrant workers returning home has also increased.

The government of Bangladesh has identified seven new countries - including Lebanon, Sudan, Romania and Greece - to send workers to.

The state will seek to open diplomatic missions in those countries, to look for job opportunities.

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