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Manpower export in the first half of this year has dropped significantly compared to the corresponding period of last year, mainly in the fallout from restrictions imposed by some Middle Eastern countries over the years.
An estimated 2,08,340 Bangladeshi workers have migrated abroad in the first half of this year as against last year’s figure of 3,74,837, according to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).
If this trend continues, this year’s total manpower export would not exceed the four lakh mark, hinted manpower exporters.
Private recruiters blamed the government for its failure to convince the labour recruiting countries to lift restrictions on hiring Bangladeshi workers.
Analysts, however, say malpractice by manpower exporters is mainly the reason for the restrictions. Its impact was evident this year after Bangladesh had enjoyed a steady growth in this sector for several years till last year.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had been the three major destinations for Bangladeshi workers.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE had restricted hiring Bangladeshis in 2006, 2008 and 2012.
In the first half of this year, the UAE has hired only 5,713 Bangladeshis and Saudi Arabia 10,157, show BMET data.
After a ban for four years since 2009, Malaysia recently reopened its market for Bangladeshi workers. It hired only 198 workers in April under a government to government (GtoG) arrangement.
Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said he was not worried about the recent slowdown in manpower export. “Our manpower export has dropped this year due to less demand in foreign job markets,” he told The Media
But the manpower exporters would not agree with the minister’s views. They pointed out that the demand for manpower has increased in some countries.
“As there are new job opportunities abroad, foreign employers are hiring more workers from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. So there are reasons for us to be worried about,” said Ali Haider Chowdhury, secretary general of Baira.
He underscored exploring new job markets for the country’s huge number of unemployed youths.
Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) blasted the government for exporting manpower under the GtoG arrangement and leaving out the recruiting agencies.
“The Middle Eastern countries are now unwilling to recruit Bangladeshis as they believe that the government and private recruiters were at loggerheads over recruitment issues,” said Baira president Shahjalal Mazumder.
The minister, however, refuted the allegations saying that had the recruitment firms followed good practices, the major recruiting countries would not have imposed restrictions on Bangladeshi workers.
“Some recruitment agencies were involved in visa trading, which has tarnished the country’s image,” mentioned Mosharraf.
Private recruiters, he complained, charge job seekers high migration fees. To recover the high migration costs, some Bangladeshi workers tend to get involved in unlawful activities abroad, added the minister.
He hoped the restrictions in the Middle Eastern markets would go within a year.
Last year, a total of 6,07,798 people migrated abroad and the country received $14.17 billion in remittances from expatriate Bangladeshis, according to BMET statistics.