Foreign trips galore
SAUDI Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia are three of the largest destinations for Bangladeshi expatriate workers. Issuing machine readable passports (MRPs) for workers in these countries is of paramount importance if Bangladesh wishes to continue to hold its position as a major supplier of manpower to these large international labour markets. Yet, as an investigative report printed in this paper on May 28 has revealed, the top policymakers in charge of the MRP issue have been clocking up frequent-flyer miles to "inaugurate" MRP issuance in countries that are of less significance, particularly the USA, Australia and Canada. Talk about a lack of prioritisation! With no headway in making IRIS, the company in charge of rolling out MRPs for an estimated 3 million expatriate workers accountable, our policymakers are visiting Europe and North America as time is quickly running out for our foreign exchange earners.
Have we thought out precisely what will happen if the hundreds of thousands of expatriate workers in the Middle East are sent packing if they don't get their passports in time? Indeed, we understand it is not just top policymakers but even project directors who are flying off right, left and centre to inaugurate so-called MRP issuance in foreign missions, while the crux of the problem of resolving sticky issues with IRIS remains stuck in the mud. It would be less than fortunate if our hardworking expatriate workers are forced to return home and Bangladesh's annual earnings from remittances plummet from billions of dollars to millions in a short span of months.