Bangladesh has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia to send manpower under 12 categories.
Secretary to the Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry Khandaker Md Iftekhar Haider and Saudi Deputy Minister of Labour for International Affairs Ahmad Bin Fahad Al Fuhaid signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides on Tuesday evening.
As per the MoU, Saudi Arabia will import domestic service worker (DSW) under 12 categories every year.
Earlier on Monday, a 19-member delegation led by Al-Fahaid held a meeting with Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain and decided to import around 10,000 workers from Bangladesh every month in 10 categories of household jobs, free of cost.
Speaking at a press briefing after the meeting, the minister said: “Saudi Arabia will primarily import housemaids, gardeners, drivers, managers and housekeepers from Bangladesh. The recruitment will be free of cost, but the migrants will have to pay around Tk20,000 at maximum for passport processing and other formalities here. The employers will bear all the cost of migration process, including the plane fare, medical tests, etc.”
The recruitment will be handled by the private agencies in both the countries, but Bangladesh government will monitor the recruitment process at the Bangladeshi end.
However, the government will not fix the processing fee, the minister said.
Also, anyone found to be involved in illegal visa trading at the Saudi end will be sentenced to imprisonment for as many as 15 years, as per Saudi law, he added.
Asked about the minimum wage for the workers, he said: “We have yet to finalise that, but we are trying to convince them to pay at least 1,500 Saudi riyal (around Tk30,000) every month.”
Saudi Deputy Minister Al-Fahaid said: “Around 1.3 million Bangladeshis are already employed in different jobs in the KSA. Now there is scope for more.”
The Bangladeshis currently working in Saudi Arabia are sending billions of dollars to the country in remittance annually.
The KSA, the biggest labour market for Bangladesh, lifted a six-year ban on recruitment of workers from Bangladesh, reopening the Bangladeshi labour market in the realm on February 1.
After the KSA enforced the ban in 2008, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and former foreign minister Dipu Moni visited the country several times to negotiate the removal of the recruitment restriction.
Finally, on Khandker Mosharraf’s visit to the country last month, the KSA government agreed on January 21 to lift the ban.
Before this venture, Bangladesh made government-to-government manpower export arrangements with Malaysia, but the scheme yielded no significant result as only several thousand workers were sent to Malaysia under the system.