The government is holding negotiation with the visiting high-level delegation of Saudi Arabia comprising representatives of ministries concerned to send manpower from different sectors inclining agriculture and infrastructure.
But the delegation’s rigidity to take only housemaids has jolted the negotiation process since Bangladesh’s experience in sending housemaids to Saudi Arabia was bitter in the past. The developments emerged from meetings between the delegation and Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Engineer Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain and different agencies in the capital yesterday.
“Bangladesh did not agree to send housemaid only. They have a tendency to return to the country after few months as, in most cases, they are physically abused,” an official who attended the meetings said asking not to be named.
Citing another recent experience of manpower export in Hong Kong, the official said 25% of the workforce, mostly housemaids, returned home after three months for the same reason. “To this end, sending only housemaids is not sustainable. It puts financial stress on the recruiting agencies and the returnees,” the official added.
Saudi Arabia has so far absorbed the largest number – 2.63m workers between 1976 and 2014 – from Bangladesh.
The 19-member visiting delegation, led by Deputy Minister for International Affairs Dr Ahmed Fahad I Alfahaid, arrived in Dhaka on Sunday more than a week after Saudi Arabia had lifted its ban for Bangladesh jobseekers following seven years’ embargo.
The delegation yesterday had another meeting with Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira).
Secretary General of the association Monsur Ahmed Kalam said: “Saudi Arabia wants to take mostly housemaids this time. But the previous experience is not sweet as in most cases being physically abused, they came back home after two or three months.
“But the problem becomes more acute when the recruiting agencies of Saudi Arabia, with whom we deal with, demand their commissions after the workers return to the country.”
He said they had discussed the matter and that more discussion would be held today with the delegation about the financial settlement issue.
Over the financial negotiation, local recurring agencies demand that the commission be fixed at more than $100 but the delegation stick to below the amount.
Monsur said: “If the recruiting agencies of Saudi Arabia give us fair commission against manpower exports, we do not have any complain to the government’s initiatives to resume sending workers there.”
As per their schedule, the delegation, on a four-day visit, is expected to visit Dhaka Medical College Hospital for taking a view of medical test process of workers, meet the foreign minister and sit with Baira officials today.
The delegation last evening paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence.
After the meeting, PM’s Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury briefed reporters. Quoting the Saudi deputy minister, he said they were not happy with the little number of Bangladeshis working in Saudi Arabia and that they wanted to hire more in the coming days.
The prime minister thanked the Saudi government for resumption of recruiting Bangladeshi workers.
“We are providing necessary training to the workers on laws, rituals and language so that they do not face any problem in Saudi Arabia,” Shameem said quoting the premier. Hasina also requested the Saudi government to come up with their curriculum and provide joint training.
Remittance is the second highest export earning sector of Bangladesh after the apparel sector.