How to get the best from Bangladeshi diaspora
According to a 2021 study of the International Organisation for Migration, there could be an estimated 2.4 million Bangladeshi diaspora members across the world, with majority of them living in the UK and the US. Even if a small portion of them contribute their skills, expertise and capital back to Bangladesh, it could make a huge difference.
The same has happened in India over the last decades but in India's case, it is truly getting back a lot in return from its non-resident Indians (NRIs). Can the same be said for non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs)?
NRIs are not only flourishing abroad in their careers and businesses. They are also very actively and directly involved in giving back to India. That is, so many of them appear to have this sense of obligation and duty toward their country of origin. When it comes to matters relating to India, NRIs bond and unite to serve India without any hesitancy and with complete dedication.
However, the same can't be said in the case of NRBs and Bangladesh compared to NRIs and India and perhaps some changes in policy may be able to fix that. If proper policies and incentives are in place, it could encourage NRBs to share their knowledge and expertise leading to a significant boost in the country's development speed.
The government will reportedly be looking to facilitate investment opportunities for those living abroad, and the policy will act as a tool to encourage the Bangladeshi diaspora to send remittances through authorised channels. This, too, could make a massive difference for our economy.
However, it is essential that the government establishes an effective formal framework to complement the policy, which would allow NRBs to make the maximum contribution in terms of our financial, economic and entrepreneurial needs.
If we take the case of India, it has had a similar policy in place for more than two decades and the reason why it has been successful is because of the foundational blocks that the country's government has managed to lay down over the years.
Furthermore, the Indian government's diplomatic missions in foreign countries are well-equipped with the proper personnel and tools to serve and facilitate the goals of the NRIs.
Similarly, Bangladesh must need to develop a strong and transparent system to make contributing to the country – whether in financial or intellectual terms – easy, rewarding and hassle-free.
It must be acknowledged that Bangladeshis living/working abroad are already making a sizeable contribution to our country. It is incumbent upon the authorities to ensure their well-being. We are pleased that the government has recognised this.
However, its track record of doing so via Bangladesh's missions in foreign countries is not very satisfying. In fact, it is often heard about the challenge NRBs face to accomplish even the smallest tasks which require the help of foreign missions.
This is primarily due to the incompetence and inefficiency of the staff over there. Due to this many NRBs often try their best to avoid interactions with those missions and this is not right if we are to fully receive and enjoy what NRBs genuinely want to contribute to Bangladesh.
We hope that during finalising the policy to better facilitate domestic investment opportunities for NRBs, the government will successfully establish an accountable mechanism that can guarantee that this is done more effectively soon.
Like many other countries, we want to see NRBs integrated more into our common vision of prosperity.
The author is an economic analyst