Foreign remittance is boosting the economy of Tangail district as at least one member each of most families there has migrated abroad for work.
Prothom Alo correspondents recently visited six upazilas of the district and talked to businessmen, civil society members and local residents.
The people said at least one member of most of the families live abroad for work. In some families, even five to six members have gone abroad for jobs.
After returning home, many have started businesses in the villages and towns. They own most of the shops in the villages markets.
Tangail Chamber of Commerce and Industries general secretary Golam Kibria was once an expatriate in Germany.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, he said the economy of Tangail is now dependent on foreign remittance. The expatriates are not only investing in business activities, they are also contributing to the local economy, he added.
Sadiqur Rahman is a resident of Kanchanpur village of Basail upazila. He stayed in Singapore for 13 years. After returning home several years ago, he started a business. He has bought land in the village and town. He also bought two microbuses.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sadiqur said someone of most of the families in Kanchanpur stay abroad. Very poor people have been able to change their economic condition by migrating abroad. Even day labourers have built houses and bought lands.
Aumit Imtiaz is a resident of Chhatihati village of Paikpara union of Kalihati upazila. He has been living in Italy for 14 years. He has come home on leave. Aumit’s elder brother Shahidul Islam is an engineer and stays in Finland.
Aumit said the people of Tangail are interested in going abroad. About 15 to 20 years ago, the number of poor people was higher there. The economic condition has improved due to the foreign remittance, he added.
About 2500 residents of Tarofpur union of Mirzapur upazila stay abroad.
Upazila’s Patharghata bazar committee vice president Abdul Majid said migrants help improve the economic condition of the locality. The purchasing power of the families of the migrants has increased.
However, the cost of migration has increased. A section of unscrupulous middlemen are responsible for this.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) in a study of 2017 blamed a section of middlemen for the higher migration costs.
The study said the government has fixed migration costs for several countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Singapore and Malaysia.
But the aspirants cannot go abroad with that amount due to the middlemen, the study said.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) programme director Merina Sultana said the migration costs go up due to the middlemen.
But the contribution of the middlemen cannot be denied, she said adding the migration costs will decrease if the government brings the middlemen under a legal system.
A total of 6,580 aspirants have carried out the fingerprint procedures at the Tangail district employment and manpower office to go abroad over the last three months.
Assistant director Kartik Chandra Debnath said the Middle East is the main destination of the migrants.
Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) regulates the foreign employment.
According to BMET, a total of 401,292 people have gone abroad between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2018.
* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.