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Thursday, February 6, 2020 11:58:01 PM
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Money siphoned off by foreigners depriving country

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An estimated $3.1 billion, or about Tk 26,400 crore, is siphoned away every year by foreign nationals employed in the country, found a study by the Transparency International Bangladesh. About 1.6 lakh foreign nationals became gainfully employed in Bangladesh after entering the country on a tourist visa, said the report "Employment of Foreigners in Bangladesh: Challenge of Good Governance and Way to Overcome". Typically, foreigners enter Bangladesh on a three-month tourist visa and manage jobs soon afterwards given the shortage of people with strong communication and management skills, which are in high demand in different sectors, particularly in the garment industry. When their visa is nearing expiration, they go back to their home country and return with a fresh three-month tourist visa to continue their jobs. Their salaries are paid fully in cash or to bank accounts abroad, depriving the government of tax too.
Three-billion dollars is roughly one percent of our total Gross National Product as it was estimated in December 2019. With that one percent we could have gone to great strides in our quest to achieve economic development. The cost of the Padma Bridge or MRT Line 6--arguably two of the biggest infrastructural projects, will cost USD 3 billion, more or less. So we could build a Padma Bridge, or a complete MRT line, or one fourth of the total cost of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant--every singly year. So a thorough investigation has to be taken into why the money is going abroad--is it really due to our weak educational system which is producing substandard graduates, or is it due to the complicity between the firms and the foreigners which causes a reduction in their salaries and thus makes up for the revenue shortfall.
The business houses will have to stop the dubious practice of showing reduced salaries so that the taxes can go into the exchequer. The government will have to clamp down on foreigners entering repeatedly with three month visas. Most crucially the national educational systems must be upgraded to produce world class graduates. Only then can we stop this menace.

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