Expat Returnees: Cash assistance, counsel for them
The government is going to give Tk 13,500 and career counselling to 200,000 migrant workers who returned home amid the pandemic.
The amount will be handed in one go while the counselling will help them to find employment or to become an entrepreneur.
Under the new project, 23,500 selected skilled workers will be given certificates by reputed institutions so that they can have more opportunities at home and abroad.
"We will open offices in 30 districts and recruit consultants in collaboration with the World Bank. From these offices, we shall scrutinise the details about the workers and identify the ones eligible for the benefits," said A Khaleque Mullick, joint secretary (planning) at the expatriates' welfare ministry.
Migrant workers from all over the country can avail the benefits from those offices and services, he added.
"We will provide social, psychological and financial counselling to the workers. Sometimes, our workers go through traumatic experiences abroad. In these cases, they may need counselling. And some workers may need loans or large amounts of financial assistance after returning home. We can connect them to the places where they can get the loans or other assistances."
The new project will cost an estimated Tk 427 crore, of which the World Bank will provide Tk 425 crore and the government will provide the rest, according to project documents. A database of the workers who returned home amid the pandemic will also be developed under the project.
A proposal for the project will be placed today in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) for final approval.
If approved, the Wage Earners Welfare Board of the ministry will implement the project from 2021-2023.
Industry and Energy Division of the Planning Commission has been facilitating the development of this project.
Sharifa Khan, member of the division, said, "Last year, thousands of migrant workers started to return to Bangladesh due to the impact of the pandemic. A large number of those workers remain jobless and they are spending their savings. We were thinking of how we can utilise the human resources by employing them at home or sending them abroad again as skilled workers.
"Then the World Bank stepped forward to collaborate and we developed this project. If this project is implemented, migrant workers, who return home without any significant amount of savings and those who had had adverse experiences abroad, will find the assistance needed to reintegrate to the society and to find a suitable employment or financial assistance if necessary and they will receive Tk 13,500."
According to ministry sources, more than 1.75 crore Bangladeshis are working in 175 countries across the world at present. In 2020, 4,08,408 migrant workers returned amid the pandemic.
According to a recent survey by Brac Migration Programme, 47.23 percent of the 417 interviewed migrant workers do not have any income. Besides, 98 percent of them said they were under serious stress due to inadequate earnings, unemployment and inability to reintegrate to the society.