The finance minister yesterday announced a plan to send 5 lakh workers to Malaysia through government and private arrangements in the next five years, at a time when labour recruitment by the Southeast Asian country has remained suspended for months.
Migrant experts and private sector leaders termed the budgetary plan impractical and the target very difficult to achieve.
“Stating such figures, like in the past, is completely impractical. I don't think this target can bring any result when Malaysia has suspended recruitment of foreign workers, including Bangladeshis,” said CR Abrar, executive director of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit.
Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of Warbe Development Foundation, said nothing was mentioned on whether the government has gotten any commitment from Malaysia on this issue.
“The Malaysian government gave such commitments to us many times before, but none were implemented.”
On February 18, Malaysian Human Resources Minister Richard Riot and Bangladesh's Expatriates Welfare Minister Nurul Islam signed a deal on the recruitment of 15 lakh Bangladeshi workers through government-to-government and private initiatives in the next three years.
But Malaysia suspended recruitment of workers from abroad the following day.
However, Monsur Ahmed Kalam, secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), said sending 15 lakh workers in three years was impossible, but the government's target to send 5 lakh workers is achievable.
The Malaysian government has already announced a plan to hire workers in at least four sectors -- manufacturing, construction, plantation and furniture -- which were facing a major shortage of workers, he added.
Industry insiders are happy with the finance minister's consideration to re-evaluate the initiatives to send women workers abroad, and continue sending workers abroad at low costs.
They said the initiatives would help the country accelerate the inflow of remittance, which is now lower than expectations.
Inward remittance fell 7.75 percent year-on-year to $1.19 billion in April, as low oil prices continue to erode the incomes of the countries that host the most Bangladeshi migrant workers.
In the first 10 months of this fiscal year, $12.23 billion was received as remittance, down 2.39 percent year-on-year.
Commenting on a reduction in migration costs, Abrar said it is an encouraging move. “But there is still no practical mechanism to implement such an initiative.”
In view of the government's reconsideration to send female migrants, the Dhaka University Professor said the government should improve the mechanism to ensure women's rights rather than thinking about stopping women from going abroad for work.