The situation is not as bad as the government feared, the expat welfare minister says
The number of Bangladeshi migrant workers returning home due to the Covid-19 pandemic is not a cause for alarm, said Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad.
He said there had been fear that many migrant workers would be jobless due to the economic downturn and the ongoing pandemic.
“But fortunately, the number of returning workers has not been a cause for concern,” the minister said on Wednesday, making his statement under Section 300 of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament.
He further said a small part of Bangladesh’s migrant workers had returned home since many countries had sent back irregular workers detained at their deportation centres.
Between April 1 and September 6, a total of 111,111 migrant workers have returned to the country, many of whom have come back because their job tenure has expired or they did not have any job, he said.
The expatriates’ welfare minister also said the global labour market was in trouble due to the worldwide economic crisis, which poses a challenge for Bangladesh, a major manpower exporting nation.
Mentioning that he was giving the statement to clarify any confusion regarding the labour market, Imran said in the previous years, around 60,000 Bangladeshis migrated overseas for employment per month, on an average.
In January-August of 2019, around 460,000 Bangladeshi workers went abroad, but during the same period this year, only 176,000 workers went abroad, as no one could leave the country between April and August this year, the minister said.
Stating that more than 10 million Bangladeshis work in different countries, he said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers who came home on a holiday before April, got stuck due to the travel restrictions.
“If we count them, the number of returnees will be over 275,000,” he added.
Demanding that the Covid-19 test fee be fixed at Tk100 for expatriate workers, the minister said: “They [the migrant workers] are the citizens of our country. They go abroad and send foreign currencies to our country. They should only be charged Tk100 for the [Covid-19] test, just like the rest of the citizens.”