Abdur Rahim Harmachi, Chief Economics Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-03-05 04:48:11 BdST
The previous record low was $900 million in November 2011.
The downward trend began late last year when the monthly flow of remittance dropped below the $1 billion mark in November and December last year to $951 million and $958 million respectively, according to remittance data updated by the Bangladesh Bank released on Thursday.
The remittance increased to a little over the mark of $1 billion in January but dropped again in February.
The amount of remittance Bangladesh received in February last year was more than $1.13 billion. The amount received the same month this year is 17.6 percent less than that of last year's February.
The remittance received in the first eight months (July-February) of the fiscal year also dropped by 17 percent.
The expatriates remitted $8.11 billion in the period this financial year, a drop from $9.77 billion the same period in the last fiscal.
Worried about the downward trend of remittance flow, Finance Minister AMA Muhith has blamed the 'weakened economies' of Middle-Eastern countries where the most expatriates live and work.
"The oil prices have not increased much. So, the workers there are earning less. The salary of many working there has dropped; many have lost jobs. That's why the flow of remittance has dropped," he said.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) research director Zaid Bakht told bdnews24.com that “devaluation of foreign currencies like British pound, euro, Malaysian Ringgit, Singapore Dollar to US Dollar for the drop in remittance.”
"Because of the currency devaluation, we are getting less in Bangladeshi taka against the earnings of our workers' in these countries," he said.
The central bank is also concerned over the issue.
After several meetings with the commercial banks, it has decided to send two delegations to the Middle-East, Singapore and Malaysia to investigate the situation.
In 2016, the expatriates sent home $13.61 million in 2016, which is 11.16 percent less than $15.32 billion of 2015.
Bangladesh saw the downward trend in remittance for the first time in 2013. The expatriates sent $13.83 billion that year, a 2.39 percent drop from 2012.
The flow of remittance grew by 7.88 percent in 2014. The amount was $14.92 billion that year. The remittance flow grew again in 2015; by 2.68 percent.
Finance Minister Muhith, in a recent report placed in Parliament on implementing the budget in the first quarter of 2016-17 fiscal year, said the number of Bangladeshis sent abroad for work from December 2015 to June 2016 was significant, but it could not help improve the remittance situation.
He said the flow of remittance 'may have dropped' due to slow recovery by the developed countries from the economic recession, drop in oil prices leading to the economic standstill in the Middle-East and devaluation of US dollar against Taka.
According to him, 58 percent of the remittance Bangladesh receives comes from six Middle-East countries.
"I hope the flow of remittance from these countries will normalise when the oil prices get normal," he said.