The influx of Bangladeshi migrant workers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has surged fourfold over the years, but the country’s remittance earnings have seen a continuous decline. The Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) reported a rise from 161,726 workers in 2020 to 612,418 in 2022. Despite this, remittances from Saudi Arabia dropped from $5.7 billion (2020-21) to $3.7 billion (2022-23) as per Bangladesh Bank figures.
Economists attribute this trend to the growing use of hundi, an illicit cross-border money transfer system. Many migrants lack job clarity, leading to joblessness or fraud. Compared to India and the Philippines, Bangladesh’s per-person remittance remains lower due to low-paid jobs abroad. Global economic uncertainty and inflation also impacted remittance flows. In Q4 FY23, Saudi Arabia topped remittances, followed by the UAE, the US, and the UK. The remittance landscape calls for better job matching and tackling informal money transfers to optimize gains.