Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – The central bank of Bangladesh has issued four more licenses to three commercial banks for setting up exchange houses in different parts of the world aiming to expedite the inflow of remittances.

“We’ve issued the licenses to the banks as part of our ongoing drives to keep stable the inflow of remittances,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank, said on Thursday.

The central bank has issued license to the Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited to establish exchange house in Singapore while the IFIC Bank Limited has been allowed to set up an exchange house in Malaysia.

The BB has also given permission to the First Security Islami Bank Limited to set up exchanges houses in Italy and Canada.

Besides, scrutiny of the Prime Bank’s application for establishing three exchange houses in the United Kingdom (UK) is now at final stage, the BB official said, adding two more private commercial banks also submitted applications to set up exchange houses aboard.

“We’re now scrutinizing the applications of the banks concerned keeping in mind our latest moves to increase the flow of inward remittances,” the official said without elaborating.

Currently, eight local commercial banks are operating 28 exchange houses across the world.

Remittances sent by Bangladeshis working abroad reached $9.689 billion, a record in the country’s history, in fiscal 2008-09 (FY09), marking a 22.42 per cent growth over the last fiscal.

Saudi Arabia topped the list of major sources of remittance for Bangladesh with a total of $2.859 billion in FY 09, according to the central bank statistics.

The United Arab Emirates, the United States, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea are among the other top sources of remittance.

The central bank has also continued to issue permissions to the local banks for establishing contacts with overseas exchange houses through drawing arrangements.

“We are issuing eight to ten licenses to the banks each month for establishing drawing arrangements with the overseas exchange houses to facilitate the inflow of remittances,” another BB official said.

The central bank has, so far, given approval to establish 280 exchange houses and set up 820 drawing arrangements abroad to expedite the flow of inward remittances.

The BB has already streamlined its guidelines relating drawing arrangements with overseas exchange houses through increasing their security deposits to avoid any financial risks.

The amended guidelines imposed a bar on the exchange houses to appointing sub-agents for collecting remittances from non-resident Bangladeshis.

The exchange houses will have to obtain approval from authorities concerned if they run their businesses in more than one country.

BBN/SSR/SI/AD-14August09-12:24 am (BST)