The World Bank's latest Migration and Development brief puts Bangladesh as the third-largest earner of foreign remittance from expatriate workers in South Asia with USD 15.5 billion in 2018. This is definitely good news because it is helping alleviate our foreign exchange crisis. The remittance basket could be helped further if the problems of recruitment malpractices could be tackled. Unfortunately for Bangladeshi expatriates, the situation has turned dire with the doubling of airfare in recent weeks and the suspension of a number of airlines' flights from Bangladesh. Recruiting agencies have gone on record to state that the one-way airfare for Saudi Arabia jumped from Tk 20,000 to Tk 50,000, which is more than an increase of 100 percent.
Recent newspaper reports have highlighted the price manipulation being done deliberately by some airways personnel, who are obviously reaping a windfall in profits in light of the fact that a number of airlines have wound up their business in the country. However, this has already put a dampening effect on international travel, particularly for economic migrants. The claim by recruiting agencies that travel agencies are hiking fares abnormally is something that needs to be looked into seriously by authorities. With some five to six million expatriate workers headed primarily to the Middle East, any artificial monopoly of tickets created will significantly increase the cost for migrant workers to go for overseas jobs and that will have serious consequences for remittances. It is time to investigate those involved in the ticket racket and resolve this matter as soon as possible.