Bangladeshi workers send home big cash

Bangladeshi migrant labourers sent home a record $11.65 billion last year, the central bank said Tuesday, defying expectations that unrest in the Arab world would cause a downturn in payments.

Remittances from the country's seven million-plus migrants are Bangladesh's second-highest foreign exchange earner after exports and are seen as a big help in alleviating poverty in the impoverished South Asian nation. The figure, which made up more than 10 per cent of the country's gross domestic product, represented a six per cent rise from the previous financial year, Bangladesh Bank spokesman A.F.M. Asaduzzaman told AFP.

"It is the highest remittance figure in the country's history," he said.He added that concerns that cash flows would be hit by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa - where 70 per cent of Bangladesh's migrant workers are based - had proved unfounded.Earlier this year, more than 35,000 Bangladeshi workers were flown home after violent unrest erupted in Libya. Up to 30,000 more are thought to remain there.

Last month, the government released data showing that poverty rates had declined significantly between 2005 and 2010, with remittances playing a key role. According to government figures, seven million Bangladeshis work overseas, although unofficial estimates put the figure at around nine million. Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world with a population of 150 million, counts on the inflow of foreign exchange from migrant workers to fund its imports.

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