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September 22, 2019

Legal overseas workers’ earnings keep benefitting Myanmar

  • By Te Kyi Maung
  • Myanmar migrant workers assemble motorcycles at a factory in China. Photo: Aye Min Soe

An increasing number of expatriate workers
The number of expatriate workers from big towns in Myanmar has increased gradually since 1990s in accordance with a study. Migrant workers from small towns are found to have moved to big cities to find suitable jobs. Since 2000s, general crises of severe drought, low yields of crops and suppressed lower prices of crops have compelled them to leave their villages taking risks to go overseas to find suitable jobs in a foreign country.
Village populace are in a state of hesitation about leaving their villages or areas; in fact, they are hard up for either jobs or money.
On the other hand, they are bound to face difficulties of language, culture, religion, and strange environments. They have taken risks of putting their farmlands in pawn; some having sold out their lands and other properties and at least by the act of borrowing money.

Suitable assistance
It is regrettably true that some get a job easily and others have to work at a dangerous work place with a low pay. They should be given a suitable assistance before they go overseas to find a suitable job in less dangerous places. Italy-based International Fund for Agriculture Development has conducted a research on the bills of exchange concerning with overseas workers. According to the research, workers from 50 countries in Asia-Pacific Region are closely associated with bills of exchange in one way or the other; one out ten workers send money back by means of bills of exchange to their respective countries. Therefore, the bills of exchange have affected 10% of the total population of the Asia-Pacific Region

Importance of controlling bills of exchange
According to the research, overseas workers from around the world send money back home, totaling $ 481 billion ; $ 256 billion in the Asia-Pacific Region alone means 53% of the total amount of the world; that amount is ten times higher than Official Development Assistance in the whole Region. That is why governments should properly manage to control financial transactions between overseas workers and their families. The flow of financial transactions to India was $ 69 billion at the top followed by China at $ 64 billion, the Philippines at $ 33 billion and Bangladesh at $ 13.5 billion ; Myanmar merely received $ 723 million in 2017.
Publishing correct figures about salaries and incomes Myanmar’s $ 732 million was described in the report released by IFAD; if calculated practically, the amount might be higher than that amount. After all the figures released by the departments concerned have not been found yet; the Government should arrange something for the departments concerned to control financial transactions. These 2arrangements could boost not only economic developments of our country but also help to set up objectives and goals for future development plans.
Regulations on bills of exchange are different from one country from another; Bangladesh, Nepal , Pakistan, and the Philippines have used latest Information Technology to send money through mobile phones, agents and money transfer operator.
In Myanmar, money was transferred through the Foreign Exchange Bank and Embassies in the past; now through private banks and agents. Even though overseas workers find it easy to send money back to their families, the flow of foreign currencies into our banks cannot be accounted for in terms of true statistics and figures. It should be taken into serious consideration by authorities concerned.

Suitable taxes and job opportunities
If properly managed, the bills of exchange could boost not only incomes and socioeconomic situations of rural populace but also the flow of foreign currencies, job opportunities in those areas and the facts could help draw policies of sending workers abroad. If our government could manage bills of exchange or Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) are allowed to operate in our country, these businesses will generate suitable taxes, create more job opportunities and save more foreign reserves in our local banks.
It is an indisputable fact that Myanmar overseas workers would not support their families fully as there are few job opportunities in our local market. It would be unhappy for the government to let workers go abroad to do odd jobs in a foreign country. So it is high time that the Government should help those trying to go overseas to find a job not only for their families but for the government.

Helping overseas workers as much as possible
Arrangements should be made for those overseas workers not to lose human rights and occupational security in their work places, At the same time, complete disappearance of unofficial workers is suggested; people should be clearly informed that they could go officially with a work permit rather than unofficially; transfer of money is through official means so that these arrangements could be mutually accepted by overseas workers as well as the government itself.
In conclusion, Myanmar workers go abroad to find a job in order to support their families; it also means that they contribute to the good of our country in some ways. Authorities concerned are timely urged to help those who have tried to survive the transitional period of high inflation.

Translated by Arakan Sein

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