Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Bangladeshis working abroad remitted over US$1.0 billion in November this year— the highest monthly inflow in history thanks largely to the Eid ul-Azha, the second largest Muslim religious festival, officials said on Thursday.

“The remittance amount in November is a new record after August,” General Manager of the Foreign Exchange Policy Department of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) Khandaker Khalidur Rahman said, adding that $935.15 million was remitted in the month of August this year.

“The record rise in remittance is due to the Eid festival, when traditionally migrant workers send home increased amount of money,” Mr. Rahman added.

The remittances from Bangladeshi nationals working abroad were estimated at $1.054 billion in November, up by $152.84 million from the previous month. In October 2009, the remittance was $900.70 million, according to the central bank statistics released on Thursday.

“Despite facing hard times due to the global recession, many workers saved more money and worked more hours in an effort to send higher amount to their families and relatives back home,” another BB official said.

However, remittances from Bangladeshi expatriates stood at $4.662 billion in the first five months of the fiscal 2009-10, growing by 24.44 per cent from that of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

The BB officials also said the latest figure also shows that despite the slowdown of overseas jobs, inflow of money has maintained a robust trend — a continuation of last fiscal year when remittance grew 22.41 per cent.  

The central bank earlier took a series of measures to encourage expatriate Bangladeshis to send their hard earned money through formal banking channel instead of the illegal “hundi” system to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

As part of the measures, the BB has issued 13 more licences to nine commercial banks recently for setting up exchange houses in different parts of the world aimed at expediting remittance inflow.

The central bank has also issued more clearances to the local banks for establishing contacts with overseas exchange houses through drawing arrangements.

The central bank has, so far, given approval to establish 290 exchange houses and set up 830 drawing arrangements abroad to boost flow of remittance through formal channels.

Four state-run commercial banks and dozens of private commercial banks have also stepped up efforts to increase remittance flow from the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy and the United States.

“We are establishing new contacts with overseas exchange houses so that our overseas workers can find it easy to send money back home. We’re trying to set up our own exchange houses in different parts of the world,” Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Agrani Bank Limited Syed Abu Naser Bukhtear Ahmed told BBN in Dhaka.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $10.425 billion Thursday due to the robust remittance.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-03December09-7:04 pm (BST)