Bangladesh remittances up despite global recession

DHAKA, May 5, 2009 (AFP) – Bangladeshis working abroad sent home more money in April than in the same month last year, an official said Tuesday, despite warnings that remittances would take a hit from the global slowdown.

Bangladesh Bank executive director Khandakar Muzharul Haque told AFP that 857 million dollars were sent back last month, up from 782 million dollars in April 2008.

“We are not seeing a downturn at the moment but we don’t know what will happen in the last quarter of this calendar year,” said Haque, adding that the latest figures had pushed the country’s foreign currency reserves to a new high of 6.52 billion dollars.

“The real test will come around November when we may see if the recession has an effect on remittances,” he said.

In March, Bangladeshis overseas pumped a record 881 million dollars into the economy, despite the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank all forecasting lower remittances.

In 2008, Bangladeshis working abroad sent home nine billion dollars — more than 10 percent of the impoverished country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the second highest earnings after exports.

Anecdotal evidence suggests many Bangladeshis hav