Dhaka for more manpower export
Bangladesh earning the status of a labour-source country will be high on the agenda during the prime minister's visit to Malaysia.
Sheikh Hasina will raise the issue while holding bilateral talks with her Malaysian counterpart Abdullah Bin Ahmad Badawi on the sidelines of the three-day World Islamic Economic Forum meeting starting on May 18.
Once Bangladesh becomes a labour-source country, Malaysian employers will be able to recruit Bangladeshi workers regularly instead of following a quota system, officials said.
Malaysia has eleven labour-source countries that include India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia from where the employers hire workers anytime they need.
Malaysia has always hired Bangladeshi workers under the quota system that requires that employers of any Southeast Asian country should get special permission from their home ministry to recruit workers.
“Under the quota system the recruiting agencies have to make special arrangements that involves a huge amount of unofficial expenditure,” said a recruiting agent.
The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment has already prepared a position paper, which emphasises the need for making Bangladesh a source country, said the ministry Secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan.
Recruiting agencies and officials said it is very crucial for Bangladesh to become a labour-source country for Malaysia as quota system in labour recruitment creates huge troubles for the workers.
Malaysia started recruiting 5 lakh Bangladeshis in late 2006 under the quota system. Before canceling 55,000 job visas in March last year, nearly 4 lakh Bangladeshis had been hired since then.
Earlier, Malaysia also stopped hiring workers from Bangladesh on different grounds.
The major problem is high migration cost. Workers seeking jobs in Malaysia had to spend on average Tk 2 lakh each against the government-fixed rate of Tk 84,000 only.
Of the Tk 2 lakh, more than a lakh taka is spent on bribes at different levels in Malaysia, recruiting agents said.
A study of Malaysian migrants rights group, Tenaganita found on average RM 200 to RM 500 is spent on brokers, RM 1500 to RM 1800 on officials at the Malaysian home ministry, RM 360 to RM 1800 on levy, RM 300 to RM 500 on visa, RM 1000 to RM 1200 on fee for lobbyist of human resources officials of the employers, RM 30 on bank guarantee and RM 50 to RM 55 on attestation of job demands by Bangladesh mission in Kuala Lumpur.
Bangladesh mission in Kuala Lumpur has already proposed that Malaysia make Bangladesh a source country, said Dr Nurul Islam, director of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.
Outsourcing companies in labour recruitment is another problem. These companies hire workers under the agreements with the principal companies, an official of the ministry said.
These companies eat up a good portion of the workers' salaries. Many a time they hire additional workers but don't provide them with jobs.
They take away passports of workers and confine them to rooms and then they extort money from them, said many returnees from Malaysia.
Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies Secretary General Ali Haider Chowdhury said it is imperative for the prime minister to strongly negotiate with Malaysia to make Bangladesh a source country.
Recruiting agent Ruhul Amin Swapan said around 70,000 Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia are now irregular. The premier should raise the issue of regularising them, he said.
Swapan said that Malaysia is now in want of huge workforce. “It is a chance for Bangladesh. We must make the best use of it.”