DESPITE alarm bells going off for some time now, authorities are yet to be proactive in exploring new labour markets for our expatriate workers. The latest figures show a downtrend in inward remittances, which has fallen by about 25 percent in the current fiscal and stands at approximately $2.32 billion. We have stated this before, and we will state it again, with our traditional labour destinations in the Middle East facing economic downturn, the government must prioritise the search for new markets.
With the number of expatriate workers from Bangladesh shrinking drastically by 33 per cent over 2012 to 2013, there is no room for complacency. Our missions abroad have labour officers. All majors player in the international labour market, ranging from India to the Philippines, have dedicated departments in their foreign missions to look after the welfare of their expatriate workers. In a highly competitive market, such countries vie with one another to secure for their citizens new work opportunities and markets in emerging and developed economies. We have been very fortunate to have had easy access to some of the largest known markets for many decades now.
It falls upon the government to do something about this situation. Without the precious foreign exchange earnings, the economy will suffer. Major infrastructure projects, most of which will be built by foreign contractors, will require payment in foreign currency. It would be wise for authorities to act before the downward trickle turns into something bigger.