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Dhaka Tribune

Manpower recruiting agency monopoly: HC dissatisfied with failure to submit probe report

The court, last year, had ordered an inter-ministerial committee to submit a report on 10 recruiting agencies for monopolizing the business of sending manpower to Malaysia

Update : 21 Aug 2019, 10:56 PM

The High Court has expressed its dissatisfaction over the inter-ministerial committee for its failure to submit a probe report on 10 recruiting agencies reportedly monopolizing the business of sending manpower to Malaysia in the last 10 months.

The bench of Justices Mainul Islam Chowdhury and Md Ashraful Kamal expressed their dissatisfaction and gave the inter-ministerial committee three more months to submit the probe report on Wednesday. 

The court also devised a five-point work plan for the committee. 

Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune, Barrister Rashna Imam said: "The inter-ministerial committee was given six months of time to submit the probe report but it has been 10 months and they are yet to comply by the courts order. 

"However, the inter-ministerial committee has repeatedly applied for further extension."

The court said, if the committee fails to submit the probe report by November 14, contempt of court will be issued against them.

During the proceedings, Advocate Sheikh Jalal Uddin stood for the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment while Barrister Rashna Imam stood for the writ petition and Advocate Kurshid Alam Khan represented the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). 

On October 29, 2018, the High Court directed the government to form an inter-ministerial committee to investigate the monopoly of 10 recruiting agencies and submit the report within six months.

Following the directive, a committee was formed to include an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) member.

However, the ACC member soon asked the court to be withdrawn from the committee. The court rejected the application and ordered the submission within the fixed date.

The court gave the order and rule after a writ petition was filed by 10 recruitment agencies against 10 other agencies supposedly monopolizing the business of sending manpower to Malaysia.

The petitioners contested that the arbitrary selection of a syndicate of 10 agencies had deprived over a thousand competent government-approved agencies of their fundamental right to run a lawful trade guaranteed by article 40 of the constitution.

The syndicate was formed after Bangladesh and Malaysia signed a recruitment deal – G-to-G Plus – in early 2016.

Over 200,000 Bangladeshis have gone to Malaysia since early 2017, under the G-to-G Plus deal.

However, Malaysia suspended labor recruitment from Bangladesh since September 1, 2018. This came following allegations of the exploitation of migrant workers and high recruitment fees being charged by the syndicate of 10 companies against whom the writ petition was filed.

The high migration costs deter and discourage the migration of workers, reducing remittances to the country, the petition said.

Earlier, on August 14 last year, the Malaysian government decided to establish a single system for hiring all foreign workers, including those from Bangladesh.

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made the statement, reported The Star Online.

He said the Malaysian government is currently facing problems with illegal foreign workers and has decided to set up a common system in response.

"Bangladesh, Nepal and others—they will use the same system," he said.

Dr Mahathir said they had suspended the current system of 10 agents authorized to recruit Bangladeshi workers  and was looking at opening up to all agents instead.

He said: "Earlier, only 10 agents were allowed to process the applications of people wanting to come here from Bangladesh.

"However, this has resulted in a monopoly with some charging as high as 20,000 Malaysian Ringgits [Tk411,368].”

"So, we want to open up to all agents there to allow for competition," he added.

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