Rabiul Haque: Although Bangladesh achieved a milestone in 2023 in exporting manpower abroad, but there was stagnation in the flow of remittances. Last year, remittance flows increased by 3 percent to $21.92 billion. In 2022 it was $21.29 billion. Accordingly, the remittance flow has stagnated below $22 billion for the last two years. Migration experts have attributed the stagnation in remittance flows to low-skilled workers, remittances in hundi and inability to find desirable jobs.
According to data from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), immigration of unskilled workers (referred to as low-skilled) also increased in 2023. This is 50 percent of Bangladesh’s total foreign employment, while the rate of skilled workers is 25 percent.
Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies Ali Haider Chowdhury said that workers have no opportunity to go abroad without securing a job. Those who go abroad with so-called free visas procured through their family and friends, end up in trouble. Many face difficulties in securing employment after running away from their employers.
Many workers face challenges in securing employment, especially in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia as they fall victim to fake or bogus job lures. For example, many workers spent 4.5 to 5 lakhs to go to Malaysia. Where the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Foreign Employment fixed the amount of money is only Tk 79 thousand. These workers are not able to play a significant role in sending remittances even after being deceived by the lure of fake or fake jobs. Similarly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the Parliament that by July 2023, 1.49 crore Bangladeshi immigrants are living and working in different countries of the world. They sent remittances of $21.61 billion to family members in the country through formal channels in the fiscal year 2022-23. A few days ago, the finance minister said that almost half of the remittances are now coming to the country through the Hundi system.
Record in Manpower Export: Bangladesh has exported a record number of manpower abroad in 2023, which is 15 percent more than the previous year. And one of the reasons behind this achievement is the increase in the quota for the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers (manpower) in Saudi Arabia and the re-opening of the Malaysian labor market. According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), 1.3 million Bangladeshi workers were employed in 137 countries around the world last year. Last year this number was 11 lakh 35 thousand.
Meanwhile, Malaysia opened its labor market to Bangladeshi workers after four years of closure. Malaysia is now the second largest exporter of manpower from Bangladesh after Saudi Arabia. The Southeast Asian country employs 3.51 lakh Bangladeshi workers in various sectors like manufacturing, construction, services, plantations, agriculture, mining and even domestic services. Besides, the quota for Bangladeshi workers in all firms in Saudi Arabia has been increased from 25 percent to 40 percent. Due to this, the overall contribution of this country to the growth of manpower export in the last two years is significant. Last year, Saudi Arabia employed the highest number of 4.98 lakh workers in various sectors, especially construction workers, cleaners, masons, plumbers and drivers, which is about 38 percent of Bangladesh’s total foreign employment.
According to labor recruitment agencies, immigration has stalled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those workers who could not go abroad at that time, they used the opportunity to export manpower abroad in the following years. Immigration experts say another reason for last year’s record number of manpower exports was to Middle Eastern destinations as well as to non-traditional markets such as Italy and the UK.
Last year, Italy employed 16,926 Bangladeshi workers in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality and manufacturing. 10,437 workers from Bangladesh have been employed in the UK as well in sectors such as carers, domestic workers and hospitality. Similarly, about 5,000 Bangladeshis have been recruited in South Korea. 53 thousand Bangladeshis have been employed in Singapore. On the other hand, the migration of skilled workers has increased by 22 percent till December 11 last year. The number of skilled Bangladeshi workers employed abroad last year was 3.08 lakh. In 2022 it was 2.52 lakh.
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