Non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) have urged the government to relax the restrictions on their investment opportunities in dollar-denominated government bonds for them, reduce the gap between official and curb market exchange rates to boost inward remittances.
During the third Global Business Summit held at the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital on Sunday, the NRBs put forth various other demands, including the government bearing the full cost of repatriating the bodies of deceased expatriates to Bangladesh, providing allowances to those who return to the country after working abroad for 20-30 years, and ensuring the availability of affordable insurance options for expatriates and provide incentives for sending remittances through legal channels.
They also demanded that the government remove any restrictions on the sale of savings bonds to expatriates and address the dollar crisis in order to increase foreign currency reserves, expatriates be given priority when purchasing government plots and flats, and be offered low-interest loans, and a dedicated economic zone be established for expatriates to encourage more foreign investment in Bangladesh.
The daylong conference was organised by NRB CIP Association, which aimed to protect the rights of expatriates.
Presiding over the event, the association's president, Md Mahtabur Rahman Nasir, emphasised that currently, only 40% of remittances are received through legal channels, while the remaining 60% flow through informal means, such as "hundi."
He stressed the need to take necessary steps to curb the use of "hundi" and address the concerns of expatriates.
He stated that if the government addresses the rational demands of expatriates, it will enhance the perception of the government among the expatriate community and significantly boost remittances to the country.
HSBC Bangladesh CEO Md Mahbub ur Rahman said NRBs' way to send money home should be convenient and also at a good rate in formal channel.
Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed who attended the summit as the chief guest said, "Expatriates are the lifeblood of the country's economy. But they don't get due respect. Despite being the minister concerned, I'm saying you are not given due status. But the responsibility of giving this status is not mine alone. Many institutions are involved here. All of them should focus on giving due status to expatriates."
Addressing the programme as a special guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said, "Remittances are a booster for our economy. And expatriates are advancing the economy by sending remittances. We know about their problems. I will be of all help to solve them."
Dr Enamur Rahman, state minister for Disaster Management and Relief, also was present at the event as a special guest.
During the summit, representatives from various organisations, including Parvez Tamal, the adviser to NRB CIP Association, Rupayan Group Chairman Mahir Ali Khan Ratul, and City Bank Chairman Aziz Al Kaiser, also spoke about the importance of expatriates in the country's economic development.