The government and banks must take steps to encourage expats to send money through the banking channel to boost remittances, experts said in a discussion on Wednesday.
The seminar entitled “Remittance through legal channel: prospects of digital platforms” was organized by the Economic Reporters’ Forum at the ERF auditorium in the capital Dhaka.
At the seminar, economists, bankers and industry experts said one of the easiest ways to overcome the currency crisis was to increase remittances.
Initiatives must be taken to ensure that money sent through legal channels reaches the recipient safely and instantly, while making the remittance process much easier, they said.
Ahsan H Mansoor, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, said that through various outreach programs, migrant workers could be motivated to send dollars through legal channels.
Also, special attention should be given to increasing digital services, he said.
To increase remittances through legal channels, the dollar market must be balanced, he said, adding that migrant workers were more likely to send remittances via hundi when the dollar exchange rate between channels legal and illegal was high.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said remittance recipients find it easier to receive remittances from home, even through illegal channels.
“Remittances can only be increased if the distance between expatriates and legal channels is reduced. The government is working on it. Digital platforms can play a pivotal role in this,” he said.
Bazlul H Khondker, Chairman of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling, delivered the seminar’s keynote address.
He said senders choose hundi because of the convenience of sending money quickly and at a much lower cost.
It will be possible to cut costs and delays in half if digital platforms, including MFS, are used as legal channels, he said.
“If we can strengthen the ecosystem and create ways to use digital money digitally, the country’s economy will be stronger.” For this, digital financial services should be promoted in the country,” he said.
Masrur Reaz, President of Policy Exchange, said, “There is no alternative to using digital platforms to boost remittances. If remittances can be increased, it will be possible to close the balance of payments deficit.
He also said the government must diversify and improve the skills of migrant workers.
It should focus on sending skilled workers to developed countries, he said.
Sormindo Nilormi, professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, said: “There is also a need to recognize people who earn funds by working from Bangladesh. The definition of migrant workers also needs to be clarified.
Md Iskandar Mia, former Executive Director and former Deputy Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit of Bangladesh, said: “Necessary initiatives must be taken to ensure that remittances from illegal migrant workers pass through legal channels. For this, hiring MFS agents can be a solution. It is also important to take steps to stop money laundering.
Mohammed Monirul Moula, Managing Director and Managing Director of Islami Bank Limited, said if remittances were channeled through digital channels, it would be easier to cope with the shortage of foreign currency over the next two or three month.
Khondakar Sakhawat Ali, member emeritus of Unnayan Samannay, said the dollar earned by expatriates was being hoarded by an unscrupulous group.
For this, hundi must be prevented at the source level, he said.
ERF President Sharmeen Rinvy and its General Secretary SM Rashidul Islam were also present.