Uptick in remittance inflow
Remittance inflows have recorded a 34 percent rise in the first five months of the current fiscal year, which runs counter to the World Bank's gloomy forecast about the money to be remitted by Bangladeshi workers abroad.
From July to November, Bangladesh recorded $3.75 billion in remittances, up from $2.80 billion in the year-earlier period.
Remittance inflows increased to $767 million in November, recording a rise from $648 million a month ago. The remittances in November followed a usual upward curve, driven by the rising inflow of money ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha in December.
In October-November of the last fiscal year, the country recorded $559 million and $617 million respectively, according to the data provided by the central bank.
In a recent press briefing on "Global financial crisis and its likely impact on Bangladesh", the World Bank said the current fiscal-year remittances are likely to fall by 20 percentage points from fiscal 2007-08.
For the current fiscal year, the WB projected remittances at $9.2 billion, which means 16.8 percent growth. In the worst-case scenario, the figure will hover around $8.9 billion with 12.4 percent growth.
Last year, the remittances were recorded at $7.9 billion with a 32.4 percent rise from a year ago.
In the current fiscal year, an additional eight lakh migrant workers were projected to go abroad, but the figure may come down to two to three lakh in the worst-case scenario, according to a forecast by the WB.
Officials with Bangladesh Bank said about 80 percent remittances of Bangladesh come from Middle Eastern countries.
"The remittance flow is still okay. There are no signs of an adverse impact of the global financial crisis on remittances," one of the officials said.
The BB official also said oil prices had dropped substantially in Middle Eastern countries, eroding their income. The remittance inflows show the negative impact of the falling oil prices is yet to be felt in their economies.
Exports also showed an upbeat trend. In the July-to-September period, exports showed 43.39 percent growth from the same period a year ago.
But the World Bank forecast that the export growth might fall 4.3 percentage points this fiscal year.
According to the WB projection, exports will earn $16 billion this fiscal year, with 13.1 percent growth from a year earlier. In the worst case, export earnings may slow to $15.7 billion with 11.6 percent growth.
In the last fiscal year, the exports were worth $14.1 billion with 15.9 percent growth.
A Bangladesh Bank official said there might be a slight impact of the global crisis on Bangladesh's exports, import and remittance inflows. "But it won't be so serious," the official said.
Refuting the WB projection on ready-made exports, Anwar-Ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the RMG export growth looks good.
"I believe Bangladesh's RMG exports will remain unhurt from fallout of the global financial turmoil," Parvez said.
Since the local currency appreciated to some extent against the currencies of some export destinations, the government should take immediate steps to ensure a competitive edge for exporters in the RMG business, Parvez said.
Abdul Alim, member of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, said the present financial crisis might have some effect on the remittance inflows, but the impact will not be "very deep".