Bangladesh’s remittance from overseas jobs to fall in two years

June 8th, 2008 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 8 (IANS) Bangladesh’s manpower export and the remittance from it could come down in the next two years as major labour markets in the Gulf region and Malaysia have banned fresh recruitment or reduced quotas, said a newspaper. Quoting experts, the Daily Star said the government’s target for this year to reach 900,000 recruits for overseas employment was unlikely to be met.

Economists suggest immediate actions fearing that this trend will soon hit the overall annual remittance from manpower export that is the second highest after the garment exports.

“We may not feel the blow of the bans or cut in overseas employment immediately, but after two to three years, remittance will definitely dry up if no major changes take place,” warned Syed Ashraf Ali, former executive director of Bangladesh Bank.

“The government should make overseas jobs cost-effective. Because of bad competition sponsored by manpower exporters, workers pay too much money. This should be addressed,” said M.G. Kibria of Morgan State University, who recently conducted a study on Bangladesh’s manpower export and remittance.

Around five million Bangladeshis are working abroad. Of them, about three million are living in the Gulf and sending approximately 70 percent of the remittance.

The number of Bangladeshis working abroad during 2000-05 ranged between 180,000 to 250,000, while about 380,000 workers went abroad in 2006 and 832,000 in 2007 seeking jobs, according to the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training.

Bangladesh also witnessed good growth of remittance, which was $1.88 billion in 2000-01 financial year and it went up to $5.97 billion in 2006-07. In the same year, the country received $1.73 billion from Saudi Arabia, $680.7 million from Kuwait and $80 million from Bahrain.

But from May 27 this year, Bahrain stopped issuing work permits to Bangladeshi nationals, except the professionals. Things are no different in Saudi Arabia also from where thousands of Bangladeshi nationals had to leave after the kingdom unofficially stopped renewing residential permits to them.

Kuwait stopped hiring manpower from Bangladesh in late 2006 on grounds that Bangladeshis resort to crimes, while Malaysia stopped issuing fresh visas in October last year following problems created by Malaysian employers and recruiting agencies on both sides.

Though around 400,000 workers were sent to Malaysia, serious problems of cheating, exploitation and underpayment have been reported. Cheated, around 2,000 of them returned home in last one year.

Syed Ashraf Ali, who has recently conducted a study on overseas employment and remittance for the Asian Development Bank, said the recent events taking place in Bangladesh’s labour markets were a blow to the overseas employment sector.

“If there is no outflow of workers and if expatriates working for years are forced to return home, inflow of remittance will automatically come down,” he said.

The government’s most important task should be to train potential migrants as per the requirements of the labour-receiving countries and to strongly check irregularities and fraudulent practices.

“Remittance is like a goldmine for Bangladesh. It plays a key role for stability in balance of payment and mitigating unemployment problems here,” said economist Atiar Rahman, chairman of Unnayan Samannay, a research organisation.

“Banning or curtailing recruitment of Bangladeshis in the tested countries will definitely have major negative impact on our economy. We will be in deep crisis if this source of remittance is destroyed,” said Rahman.

“Today’s problems are actually part of the failure of governance,” he added.

The Daily Star Sunday said in an editorial that Bangladesh missions should have database of all the workers abroad and should respond to the problems immediately.

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