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Money laundering must be stopped to sustain our economic growth

Published : Saturday, 15 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 678

A major obstacle in the way of economic development of Bangladesh is money laundering abroad. Economic analysts believe that if effective measures can be taken to prevent trafficking, the country will be able to reach the ranks of developed countries by 2030, not 2041.

Money laundering is a serious problem for the countrys economy. This results in a decrease in the countrys foreign exchange reserves, stunting of economic development, and overall disruption of the peoples quality of life. The amount of this smuggled money is huge, which if it is possible to invest in the development projects of the country, it is possible to bring about huge changes in the countrys infrastructure, education, health and other sectors.

It is very difficult to give the exact statistics of how much money was smuggled abroad after the independence of Bangladesh. However, various organizations and research institutes have published their research reports at various times, through which some information can be presented.

According to Global Financial Integrity, a significant amount of money is laundered from Bangladesh every year. A 2015 report noted that between 2004 and 2013, a total of approximately US$55.88 billion was smuggled out of Bangladesh. According to Bangladesh Bank, a huge amount of money has been laundered out of the country till 2023. In addition, a report published in 2023 indicated that drug trafficking accounts for approximately 481 million annually.

Recently, while presenting the alternative budget proposal for the fiscal year 2024-2025 at the Iskaton office in the capital, Ainul Islam, General Secretary of the Economic Association, said that in the last 50 years from the fiscal year 1972-73 to the fiscal year 2022-23, the total amount of money laundering from Bangladesh has been approximately Tk 11 lakh 92 thousand 815 crore. At the same time, the total amount of black money in Bangladesh is estimated to be 1 crore 32 lakh 53 thousand 500 crores. He also said that the association has recommended recovery of 0.49 percent of the money laundered in the new financial year. 5 thousand crores of money will be recovered in this. Similarly, I have recommended recovery of only 0.98 percent of the total black money. From which 10 thousand crores will be recovered.

It is possible to become a developed country by 2030 and not by 2041 if money laundering is stopped abroad: A logical discussion:

Money laundering is the main obstacle to Bangladeshs economic development. Most economists believe that if this trafficking can be stopped, the country will be able to reach the ranks of developed countries by the year 2030.
If money smuggled abroad is invested within the country, it will directly affect the economy. By spending this money on improved infrastructure, technology, education, and health sectors, employment growth and overall economic development are possible. Foreign exchange reserves will increase. This will strengthen the countrys import sector and bring economic stability. Besides, the value of money will increase which will help in international trade. It will also increase intra-country trade and investment, which will increase tax revenue. This additional revenue can be used by the government for various development projects, which will help in the socio-economic development of the country.

New industries and business establishments will be developed. This will create huge number of employment opportunities, which will reduce unemployment and increase financial freedom in the country. Increased investment within the country will help in poverty alleviation. Development projects in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure sectors will be implemented in rural areas, which will reduce poverty.

Some practical recommendations to prevent money laundering abroad: Effective legislation and enforcement: Strict laws should be enacted to prevent money laundering and their effective enforcement should be ensured. Strict penalties should be imposed against law breakers. Corruption is one of the main causes of money laundering. Zero tolerance policy against corruption should be adopted. Strict action should be taken against those involved in corruption and no leniency can be given in this regard. Strict supervision should be kept on the banking system. Proper accounting of every transaction and necessary action to should be taken in case of suspicious transactions. Coordination between central bank and commercial banks should be increased. Following International Standards The guidelines and standards of various international organizations must be followed.

Actions should be taken as per the guidelines of the Financial Action Task Force and action should be taken as per their recommendations. Use of advanced technology should be increased. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is possible to identify suspicious transactions and take immediate action. International cooperation should increase information exchange and cooperation with different countries. We must work together to prevent money laundering in coordination with international organizations. Campaigns should be conducted with the help of media and educational institutions to create public awareness about the harmful effects of money laundering. The information should be forwarded to the Central Bank or concerned authorities.

Verification of Source of Assets Any large money transaction requires verification of the source of assets. This will reduce the possibility of smuggling money earned through unethical or illegal means abroad. Training and capacity building of the personnel of the concerned organizations should be done. They need to be made aware of modern technologies and techniques so that they can work effectively in preventing money laundering.

Bangladesh government has already taken various steps to prevent money laundering abroad and ensure economic security. Information sharing between various law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies is being enhanced so that cases of money laundering abroad can be detected quickly and effectively. International Cooperation Cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies is increasing. It enables data sharing and recovery of assets hidden abroad. Use of Technology The movement and transaction patterns of traffickers are being analyzed using modern technology and data analytics.

Besides, more stringent measures are being taken by making new laws and regulations. Through these measures, the government is working effectively to protect the countrys economy and prevent money laundering abroad. However, no visible money has returned to the country, but the government continues to try.

If the countrys money is invested within the country, everyone will get its benefits. This will increase employment, reduce poverty and overall strengthen the countrys economy. If money laundering is stopped, the government will have huge amount of money which can be invested in various developmental sectors. As a result, the infrastructure of the country will improve, the allocation for education and health sector will increase and the overall economy of the country will be more stable and strong. Therefore, Bangladesh can reach the ranks of developed countries by 2030 if money laundering is prevented. This is not only possible, but also time demanding.

The writer is a columnist, journslist &  Assistant Professor,  Head of Department, Sociology, Rosey Mozammel Womens Honors College







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