Financial lifeline

Ali Abdul says prices of essential goods in Bangladesh have gone up, causing hardship to people there.

JOHOR BARU: Covid-19 and the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) have caused uncertainty in many economic sectors, but this has not stopped migrant workers here from remitting money to their families back home.

Ali Abdul Muteen, 50, said that prior to the pandemic, he was sending about RM1,000 (20,374 Bangladeshi taka) monthly to his family in Bangladesh.

He said the sum had increased to between RM1,200 (24,443 taka) and RM1,500 (30,554 taka) monthly.

“Prices of essential items have been going up in Bangladesh since the pandemic hit, causing hardship to many people there, ’’ he said.

Ali, who works with a contractor involved in repairing and replacing old water pipes and meters, said he was lucky to be able to keep his job.

The Satkhira native, who has been working in Johor for the past 12 years, said most of his friends in the village back home, located about 200km from Dhaka, were jobless.

Indonesian worker Mimi, 54, who is a cook at a stall selling nasi campur (mixed rice), said she had been forced to reduce her monthly remittance to RM800 (2.77mil rupiah) due to fewer customers.

“Prior to the pandemic, I was sending RM1,000 (3.46mil rupiah) monthly to my son, ’’ she said.

Like many Indonesians, Mimi, who goes by one name, said the money sent back home was used for her family’s expenses including paying for her son’s school fees in West Jakarta.

Security guard Ram Prasad Limbu, 41, said he was fortunate as his wife, who works as a teacher in Nepal, helps to supplement the family income.

“The RM600 (17,321 Nepalese rupee) I send back monthly goes for the education of my 16-year-old son, ’’ he said.

Ram, who hails from Biratnagar located about 1,000km from Kathmandu, has been working in Malaysia for five years.

“I hope to work for another year before going back to Nepal as I really miss my family, ’’ he said.

Statistics showed that foreign workers had remitted a total of RM119bil to their home countries from 2011 until 2016.

Indonesian workers were the biggest group sending money out of Malaysia, with RM21.2bil during the period, while Bangladeshis sent back RM17bil, Nepalese (RM13.2bil), Indians (RM6bil) and Filipinos (RM3bil).

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