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A roadmap for increasing remittances


IT was estimated that remittances can double or treble within a short period of time if only proper policies are put into operation. Numerous potential workers are there who cannot go abroad due to some constraints. In many cases, they are unskilled and there is little demand for unskilled workers. Besides, it is not desirable also to send out unskilled workers as their wages are always found substantially lower than skilled workers. The government can play a very useful role by providing training opportunities in diverse areas. It can set up many skill training centres throughout the country at its own cost to facilitate the enrolment of large number of people in them.
Admission seekers should be admitted free of charge at these skill training centres on the condition that they would pay back for their training costs once they get employment. Neither the trainer nor the trainee stands to lose anything from such an arrangement. But the value of it would be the fastest creation of an ever growing body of trained people for the country's own use and overseas markets. It will facilitate sending out of not only a greater number of people than now, the greater number plus their status in the skilled category will mean higher total amount of remittance flow.
Finance is another formidable barrier faced by people in going abroad. So many cases are noted in which desperate people sell off their last valuable possessions to raise the fees of private manpower exporters. The need for such risky steps discourage many from even considering going abroad. The commercial banks should extend collateral-free loans to persons wanting to go abroad on terms and conditions that the loans would be progressively repaid with nominal interest after they reach their destinations of employment abroad. Neither the banks nor the loan recipients lose anything but stand to only gain from such an arrangement. However, the main favourable outcome of such a move will be the sending out of a far greater number with foreign employment than hitherto leading to a much higher level of remittance flow for the country.
The foreign missions will have to be activated sufficiently also in support of a dynamic manpower policy. Missions located in prospective regions should have separate wings for promoting manpower export. Such specialised sections in the embassies should singularly be guided by the policy of maximising the export of our manpower under the best possible terms and conditions. To this end, they would be expected to assess prospects for our manpower, reach government-to-government contracts or between our manpower exporters and foreign employers. They should be also obliged to represent our workers sincerely and unfailingly in all cases where foreign employers may breach terms of contracts involving underpayment and other abuses.

Shamim Ahmed
Baridhara, Dhaka