Obhibashi Karmi Unnayan Program has called on the government to bring vulnerable migrant workers, particularly women, under the National Social Security Strategy in the upcoming national budget.
In a discussion titled “Migrants’ Budget” at the Biam Auditorium yesterday, the rights body said remittance sent by the migrants every year is about $15 billion, which is seven times the foreign direct assistance and the driving force of the country’s economy.
However, due to lack of transparency in the labour migration process, migrants face various forms of fraudulence and exploitation in the recruitment process, at workplace and even after returning home. They are not well taken care of by the government, said Obhibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) Chairman Shakirul Islam.
According to a review of 2018-19 budget by OKUP, the allocation for the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry is third lowest, ministry wise. The welfare-related initiatives taken by the government are basically funded by Wage Earners’ Welfare Fund -- made up of contribution of the migrants, it said.
In his presentation, Shakirul said every year thousands of migrants return home empty-handed after enduring abuse. An estimated 5,000 female migrants returned home last year. Many of them do not receive proper treatment due to financial challenges. At times even their families do not accept them, he added.
“If these returnees are not rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, they may turn into social and economic burden for the country,” he said.
Government must spend at least two percent of total remittance for the welfare of migrant workers, he added.
Addressing the discussion, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Advocate Fazle Rabbi Mia said the government will increase budgetary allocation for migrant workers in the upcoming budget, according to a press statement.
Mrinal Kanti Das, member of the parliamentary standing committee on the expatriates’ welfare ministry, said he would recommend arranging special queues for migrant workers at the airports as well as increase manpower at the Bangladesh embassies to ensure their protection.