The inflow of remittance, which has a substantial contribution to the national economy, has gone down in 2017 despite the growing number of manpower export during the outgoing year.
Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam said his ministry has sent a record number of 9.93 lakh workers abroad compared to 5.55 lakh in 2015 and 7.57 lakh in 2016, reports UNB.
Regarding the fall in the remittance inflow, the minister said it does not fall under his ministry's jurisdiction, but hinted that illegal “hundi” transactions are not included in the official remittance figures.
Remittance inflow has marked a 0.89 percent fall compared to the previous year, according to a report prepared by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).
The report estimated that the country earned US $13.5 billion in remittance in the outgoing year against US $13.61 billion last year. It received US $13.61 billion in remittance in 2016 while it was US $15.11 billion in 2015.
Allegations have surfaced against private recruiting agencies that they are taking higher immigration charges from workers as the government has failed to stabilise the rate till now.
The agencies are not abiding by the government-fixed immigration fees, which are Tk 1.6 lakh for Malaysia, Tk 1.89 lakh for Saudi Arabia, Tk 1.77 lakh for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Tk 1.67 lakh for Kuwait, Tk 1.27 lakh for Jordan. They are taking higher fees than those set, the minister said.
The ministry attributes the 28 percent rise in sending manpower this year to the high labour exports to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman.
Export to Malaysia has also marked a fall due to a lack of monitoring in the government-to-government (G2G) agreement.
Although five lakh workers were supposed to go to Malaysia under this agreement, only 83,169 have gone so far, with 10 recruiting agencies facilitating their overseas jobs.
The Malaysian government, on the other hand, has declared that over three lakh illegal workers will be deported by the end of this year, enforcing their combing operation to find out and arrest them.
Talks are underway with Malaysia and some Middle Eastern countries to ensure legal employment for Bangladeshi workers, said the minister.
Also, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with International Development Organisation of Japan to further promote the Bangladeshi workers in numerous trades.
In addition, the minister recently met UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash to discuss expanding the number of manpower recruitments.
The Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit report on “Patterns and Trends of Labour Migration 2017 from Bangladesh: Achievements and Challenges”, was disclosed at a press conference at the capital's Jayita Press Club on Thursday.
The report says 9.31 lakh Bangladeshis migrated between January and November this year, with 83.06 percent to Gulf and Arab countries and 16.93 percent to Southeast Asian countries.
If the trend continues till the end of this year, labour migration rate will increase 34.15 percent than what was in 2016, when 7.57 lakh workers migrated to different countries, it said, referring to the data of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).
Between January and November this year, 1.13 lakh women migrant workers went to different countries. The number was 1.18 lakh in 2016. If the trend continues, it will be a 4.6 percent increase.
Until November, 5.13 lakh migrant workers went to Saudi Arabia, which is 55.15 percent of the total migration flow.
As many as 1.03 lakh migrant workers (10.62 percent) originated from Comilla district. The least number has been counted from Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Rangamati.
The RMMRU report says 35 complaints were filed by deceived migrant workers through online and at the BMET between April and December. However, not a single complaint ended with any solution so far.
The report further says aspirant migrant workers at remote areas largely depend on middlemen for their migration process and also maintain monetary transaction through the middlemen.
As the middlemen are not under the purview of any legal framework, they can escape legal obligations. It recommended bringing them under a “regular framework”.
It also mentions irregular migration of Bangladeshis remained a big challenge this year.
RMMRU in the report also lauded BMET for taking initiative to decentralise its service for migrant workers.
It recommended that the government recruit sufficient employees at district manpower offices and enhance their training for a successful decentralisation process.
Migration of Rohingyas from neighbouring Myanmar was also a big challenge this year, the report mentions.