Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Bangladeshis working abroad, through formal channels, sent home more than US$ 12 billion in the just concluded calendar year despite the ongoing political crisis in the Middle East and economic slowdown in the United Stats and Europe.
More than seven million Bangladeshi overseas workers remitted $12.165 billion, a record in the country’s history, in 2011, marking a 10.55 per cent growth over that of the previous calendar year, officials said on Monday.
“The central bank expects that the existing inflow of remittances to continue in the new calendar year,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the BBN in Dhaka, adding that the BB is continuously working to increase the flow of inward remittances. 
The country received over $11 billion in remittances in 2010, registering a nominal year-on-year growth of 2.68 per cent.
The remittances from Bangladeshi nationals working abroad were estimated at $1.144 billion, the highest ever monthly inflow, in December last, up by $235.59 million than that of the previous month. In November 2011, the remittance was $908.79 million, according to the central bank statistics released on Monday.
“The existing market-based exchange rate of the US dollar has been able to encourage the expatriate Bangladeshis to remit their hard-earned currency through the banking channel,” the central banker said while explaining the higher inflow of remittance in December. 
He also said the BB’s strict monitoring on the rates, offered by the overseas exchange houses of the commercial banks while receiving remittances, has also helped to expedite the inflow of remittances. 
The central bank earlier asked 15 commercial banks, which have overseas exchange houses, to monitor such exchange rates closely. 
The central banker also said the BB has taken the latest measures to encourage inward flow of remittances from the Bangladeshi nationals working abroad by ensuring maximum rate of their hard-earned money.
“The BB is very much cautious about the Middle East situation,” the central bank official said, adding that the BB is observing the latest developments in the Arab world closely.
The central bank of Bangladesh earlier took a series of measures to encourage expatriate Bangladeshis to send their money through the formal banking channel instead of the illegal “hundi” system to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
Four state-run commercial banks and dozens of private commercial banks have stepped up efforts to increase remittance flow from the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy and the United States. 
“We’re still serious about increasing the inflow of remittances through official channels to meet our internal foreign exchange demand,” a senior official of a leading private commercial bank told BBN. 
The country’s foreign exchange reserve stood at $9.64 billion Monday, due to the higher inflow of remittances.
BBN/SSR/AD-02Jan11-9:54 pm (BST)