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Migrant workers deserve better

  • Published at 08:00 pm March 10th, 2017
  • Last updated at 09:29 am March 11th, 2017
Migrant workers deserve better

Every year, thousands of Bangladeshis travel to foreign shores for work.

The remittance they send back forms the backbone of our economy.

Bangladesh receives one of the highest amounts of remittance in the world, and the amount has grown consistently in spite of changes in the economic climate.

It is, then, highly unfortunate that we have been unable to treat our migrant workers with the care and respect they deserve.

Migrant workers are victimised even before they leave the country, as rampant corruption by government officials are pushing up the visa processing cost to unreasonable levels -- up to five times the rate that had been fixed by the government.

A new study finds that nine of out 10 visa applicants have been victimised by corrupt officials.

It is imperative that the government stamp out corruption in visa processing practices, which have clearly gone out of hand.

The steps that have been taken so far have not been effective.

At the root of the problem is the middleman-based system, which allows syndicates with links to the ministry, visa offices, migration offices, and foreign authorities to extort large sums of money from aspiring migrant workers with no other recourse.

The police verification system also allows for police corruption -- policemen generally have to be bribed between Tk500 and Tk1,000 during the verification process.

It is a good idea to scrap this requirement, which enables law enforcement officials to abuse their power, and causes applicants much grief.

Ultimately, the solution lies in holding all officials accountable for their actions, with closer monitoring of the entire process.

It is the least the country can do for its valuable migrant workers.