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Slumping oil price hits international migrants’ income: RMMRU study

9.0pc expat homes lives below poverty line in 2014-17

FE Report | February 01, 2018 00:00:00

The poverty rate of migrant households has remained unchanged in the last three years as their income has not grown, a new survey.

About 9.0 per cent of international migrants' households lived below the poverty line between 2014 and 2017, said the study, conducted by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).

Tasneem Siddiqui, founding chair of RMMRU, said after oil prices dropped on the international market, the income of the migrant workers remained almost static in Middle Eastern countries.

Many workers are also jobless and can't get desired jobs there, which has had a negative impact on the overall poverty reduction in the country's international migrant households, she added.

The income of male migrant workers has increased only 3.0 per cent in the last three years, while women workers' income remained unchanged, she said.

That means the income that the women workers earned in the beginning of their jobs abroad remained same even after three years, said the RMMRU chair.

Referring to the survey report, she said that internal migrants are in more suitable situation in poverty reduction than those of international migrants.

According to the findings, the poverty rates among internal migrants have reduced to 27 per cent from 32 per cent between 2014 and 2017.

The research on 'Impact of Migration on Poverty and Local Development' was unveiled at the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific in Dhaka.

Remittances of both male and female international migrants have increased nominally in the last three years.

Male migrants remitted Tk 183,045 annually, while their female counterparts sent home Tk 118,950 each.

Between 2005 and 2017, migration cost increased substantially for male workers. The average cost of male migrant workers was Tk 339,146 each, the findings said.

Although there is no official migration cost for the women migrant workers, most of them spent Tk 90,000 each to get overseas jobs, the survey showed.

It found that some 27 per cent of workers returned home in 2017. The returning migrant households were only 9.0 per cent in 2014.

The baseline household survey was conducted in 2014 and the second phase was in 2017. It covered 102 villages in 17 districts in 2014. Some 120 villages and 20 districts were covered in 2017.

The quantitative survey was carried out in 12,400 houses of these villages.

State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam was the chief guest at the dissemination programme of the survey.

He said Bangladesh had some major impediments such as high migration cost, lack of skills and regional imbalances in the migration flows, which often undermine the benefits of outward movement.

The government is working to overcome such obstacles to ensure a sustainable and regular migration, he said

Internal migration is increasing driven by factors such as rural-urban development divide, impacts of climate change and natural disasters, he added.

Marie-Annick Bourdin, ambassador of France in Bangladesh, Atiq Rahman, executive director of BCAS, Shahreen Munir, National programme officer of Labour Mobility and Human Development of IOM, Dildar Hossain, project director of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Bazlul H Khondker, professor of economics at Dhaka University, among others, were present at the programme.

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