New law in Saudi Arabia to benefit two mn Bangladeshi workers

April 24th, 2009 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka/Riyadh, April 24 (IANS) Nearly two million Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia can now change their jobs under a new law passed on the eve of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit.
It will help Dhaka consolidate one of its most lucrative manpower export markets at a time when expatriates from some other West Asian countries and from Malaysia are returning home jobless.

The Saudi Council of Ministers Monday passed a series of regulations facilitating transfer of jobs of people employed by operation, maintenance, catering and cleaning companies in government departments.

A bulk of Bangladeshi expatriates are engaged in these sectors, The Daily Star said Friday in its reports from Riyadh and Dhaka.

“The Bangladeshi workers who have left jobs for low salaries or other reasons and even whose job contract period is over now can change their jobs,” an official of expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry told the newspaper.

In Saudi Arabia, job transfer was restricted to the workers and their work permits were not renewed generally for which many Bangladeshis had to either do jobs ‘illegally’ or were forced to return home.

Since imposing a partial ban on recruiting workers in March last year, many Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to renew their residency visas after completion of job contract period.

The transfer of workers from the previous employer to the new one should be based on their desire and on agreements between them, Saudi Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja said while explaining the cabinet decisions.

Hasina said that the government has decided to establish an Expatriate Welfare Bank for safe migration of the Bangladeshi workers and proper utilisation of the foreign exchange.

“You will be owners of the bank. Interested people will take loans from the bank and pay back the loan gradually from their income abroad… you won’t have to sell your homes and lands to come abroad. We want your lives safe,” she said.

The enthused Bangladeshis at a reception held in honour of Hasina said they were keen to invest back home and exercise their voting right.

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