Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen to place a comprehensive report over sending back the stranded expatriates to their workplaces abroad.
She gave the instruction while presiding over the weekly cabinet meeting held virtually. Some 141,000 Bangladeshi expatriates returned home this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PM joined the meeting from the Gono Bhaban, while her cabinet colleagues got connected from the Bangladesh Secretariat.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said, "At the end of the meeting, the prime minister went for unscheduled discussions on overseas employment and asked the foreign minister to place a comprehensive report at the next cabinet meeting over how the stranded expatriate workers can be repatriated, be reemployed in proper ways, and the new overseas job markets can be explored."
There are some potential job markers like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for Bangladeshi workers, he said.
According to the data placed before the cabinet meeting, a total of 141,046 Bangladeshi workers returned home this year and 88,586 of them came without passes or travel passes, Anwarul said.
He said the expatriates welfare ministry presented its future work-plan over manpower export and the scenario of overseas jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of returnees is not an alarming one for Bangladesh as around 1 crore Bangladeshi expatriates stay abroad and a good number of the expatriates travel back to the country regularly, the cabinet secretary added.
Some 181,273 Bangladeshi workers went abroad in the past eight months till August 2020, while the number was 406,962 during the same period last year.
Anwarul said despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the remittance inflow in the last fiscal year (2019-20) was $18.21 billion, which is 9.6 percent higher than the amount of the previous fiscal year.
About the stranded Saudi returnees, the foreign minister informed the cabinet that he talked to his Saudi counterpart on Sunday and requested him to allow the operation of a greater number of Saudi and Biman flights and extend the 24-day visa renewal deadline.
Though the time for visa renewal was extended several times, the Saudi authorities assured Bangladesh of considering further time extension, said the minister.
DRAFT LAW APPROVED
Yesterday, the cabinet in principle approved the draft of "Private Medical and Dental College Bill, 2020" in order to bring the private medical institutions under a law instead of two separate guidelines.
"At present, private medical and dental colleges are run under two guidelines…. Now it's not possible to run the institutes properly by only guidelines. A law is needed to regulate these. So, the Medical Education and Family Welfare Division framed the bill," said the cabinet secretary.
The private institutes are now run under the Private Medical College Establishment and Operation Guidelines 2011 and Private Dental College Establishment and Operation Guidelines 2009, he mentioned.
PM SEEKS BLESSINGS
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Hasina said it was a tough job for her to work for the country after losing almost every family member, including her parents.
"But above all, I thought one thing [that] I have to do something for the country and the people that my father had loved so passionately. His dream must not remain unfulfilled, I have to materialise his dream," the premier said.
Yesterday was the 73rd birthday of the PM, also the Awami League president. Her cabinet colleagues wished her on her birthday.
Hasina expressed her gratitude towards the people of the country and sought their blessings.
"I seek your blessings so that I can live with honour as long as I am alive and the people of the country get benefit from me and do well."
The PM said she was trying hard to turn the country into "Sonar Bangla" of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She said the people of Bangladesh have the capability to overcome all sorts of hurdles.
"With cooperation from all, we are taking the country forward. I thank the people of the country [in this regard]. We could have done many more works if the novel coronavirus hadn't come. However, the people of Bangladesh have the capability to overcome all hurdles whatever they may be," the PM added.