Migrant workers: 5 lakh return since onset of pandemic
The government yesterday approved a Tk 427 crore project to provide one-off cash assistance to two lakh returnee migrant workers, create a database for them and extend other support to improve their skills.
The potential beneficiaries are among the five lakh expatriates who have returned home after losing jobs in their host countries since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the World Bank-funded project. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the meeting from Ganobhaban through a digital platforms, while others from the NEC conference room.
Under the project, two lakh migrant workers will receive Tk 13,500 each.
When migrant workers return from abroad, they are registered at the help desk at the airport, said Planning Commission Member Sharifa Khan.
According to the information, 4.80 lakh migrant workers have come back. Based on that, it was said that about five lakh expatriates have returned, she said.
Some of the workers have also found jobs in the overseas markets, Khan said.
"We are beginning the project by considering two lakh workers. But we will take projects to cover all of them."
The government will prepare a database on migrant workers, outlining their host countries and their skills.
Apart from the one-off cash assistance, each of the targeted beneficiaries would be allocated Tk 5,000 to receive training from reputed training centres to turn them into skilled workers for overseas jobs.
"We will counsel them on how to secure loan facilities," the planning commission member said.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said the prime minister appreciated the project for employment generation in the informal sector aiming to reintegrate the migrant workers, reported UNB.
"The expatriates who returned home contributed a lot to the country. Now the country will have to provide support to them," Mannan quoted the prime minister as saying.
State Minister for Planning Prof M Shamsul Alam said a database of all returnee migrant workers would be created and assistance would be provided considering their financial state.
According to a recent survey by the Brac Migration Programme, 47.23 per cent of the migrant workers do not have any income. Besides, 98 per cent were under serious stress due to inadequate earnings, unemployment and inability to reintegrate into society.
Of the project cost, the World Bank will provide Tk 425 crore. The Wage Earners Welfare Board of the expatriates' welfare ministry will implement the project from 2021 to 2023.
Ten development projects involving an estimated cost of Tk 2,575.42 crore got approval at the meeting. Seven of these projects are new, while the remaining three are revised ones.
The new projects include Modernisation and expansion of the services and research facilities of the Institute of Tissue Banking and Biomaterial Research project involving Tk 173.80 crore; the construction of three underpasses and Paduar Bazar intersection U-Loop on Dhaka-Chattogram National Highway project with Tk 568.93 crore; and the protection of the left bank of the Padma River on the downside of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge in various locations under Louhajang and Tongibari upazilas of Munshiganj involving Tk 446.12 crore.
A full-fledged child cardiology and child cardiac surgery unit will be set up at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University at the cost of Tk 72.09 crore.
The meeting approved a Tk 146.87 crore project to construct the Bangladesh Chancery Bhaban at Canberra in Australia and a Tk 98.61 crore project to set up the BSCIC food processing estate in Thakurgaon.
The three revised projects are: up-gradation of district highways into proper standard and width (Mymensingh Zone) (1st revised) with an additional cost of Tk 111.58 crore; district-based computer training for women (3rd revised) project with an additional cost of Tk 31.82 crore; and reconstruction or replacement of iron bridges in the southern region (1st revised) project at an additional expenditure of Tk 498.30 crore.