• Saturday, Dec 14, 2019
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Workers' migration cost 450% higher than government rate

  • Published at 09:41 pm May 25th, 2019
Migrant workers
File photo of Migrant workers at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Dhaka Tribune

Although migration costs have increased by 32–38 times for the country, average monthly income has gone up by only 2–4 times

Migrant workers now have to count up to Tk7,50,000 to go to Saudi Arabia, almost 450% more than what the government has fixed, according to a recent report by the WARBE Development Foundation.

The report titled “Bangladesh Annual Migration Report 2018,” was unveiled during a consultation meeting on the “National Budget for Fairer Labour Migration,” organized by the Parliamentary Caucus on Migration and Development at the Parliament Members Club on Saturday.

According to the report, the Bangladesh government has fixed Tk165,000 as the cost of migration for outbound workers going to Saudi Arabia, but they currently have to pay Tk650,000–Tk750,000.  

In 1985, cost of migrating to Saudi Arabia was Tk20,000 while the average monthly income of migrant workers was Tk8,000. At present, a migrant worker earns Tk15,000–30,000 per month.

Although migration costs have increased by 32–38 times for the country, average monthly income has gone up by only 2–4 times.   

Like Saudi Arabia, the government has fixed Tk117,780 as the cost of migrating to Lebanon. However, in practice, the migrants are paying as high as Tk600,000 to go to the country.

The report said: “It is a matter of concern that over time, income from overseas employment is not growing as much as the migrant recruitment cost. As a result, economic benefit from migration is eroding over time.

"The growing mismatch between income and recruitment cost, although not halting the migration flow, is increasing the burden on migrants tremendously,” it added.

Overseas employment down by 27%

The report stated that the total overseas employment dropped from 1,008,525 in 2017 to 734,181 in 2018 — a 27% fall from last year.

Overseas employment of women fell from 121,925 in 2017 to 101,695 in 2018.

"The country witnessed a 16% fall in female overseas employment, while male employment fell by 28%," said the report.

Recruitment to Saudi Arabia alone fell from 551,308 in 2017 to 257,317 in 2018.

While presenting the keynote speech at the meeting, Syeed Ahamed, CEO of the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID), said: “In the previous fiscal year [FY2017-18], allocation for the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment was Tk5,940,000,000 — 0.13% of total budget.

"However, in FY2018-2019, the allocation for the ministry dropped to Tk900,000,000,” he added.

Chief guest Fazle Rabbi Mia, deputy speaker of the National Parliament, raised question about lowering the budget allocation for this sector.

“The Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment implemented 72% of budget allocated for them, but why did its budget allocation decrease?" the deputy speaker asked.

He added that remittance sent by migrant workers played a big role in Bangladesh's GDP growth.

Previously on Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal to give migrant workers a 3% cash incentive to encourage them to send remittance through official channels.

Among others, Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of WARBE Development Foundation, Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), Aroma Dutta, MP, member of the Parliamentary Caucus on Migration and Development, also spoke at the meeting.

Israfil Alam, MP , chair of the parliamentary caucus, presided over the meeting.