Migration cost for migrant workers should be reduced

MIGRATION cost remaining higher for Bangladeshi workers than for Indian or Sri Lankan workers, as New Age reported on Friday, is regrettable. Migration experts and rights defenders at a public hearing in Dhaka on Thursday, therefore, rightly stressed the need for multilateral steps to cut the migration cost for migrant workers. The speakers at the hearing also suggested that the issue of high migration cost for migrant workers should be taken up at the forthcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development to be held in Dhaka in December.
Overseas remittances by expatriate workers have for long been the principal foreign exchange earner of the country. But it is unfortunate that for these people who come from a comparatively poorer background, mostly from rural areas, the migration cost is too exorbitant, even sometimes beyond their means, because of visa trading although it is prohibited by the law. Many job seekers continue to be cheated by some so-called recruitment agencies and their associates year after year. Fault may, however, also lie with recruiting agencies or companies in destination countries, but that should not deter us from putting our house in order. It is, therefore, time for the government to do something to protect the interest of job-seekers. Obviously, the most important issue is to organise the whole business of recruiting workers in a planned way. If the government takes a decision to reduce the migration cost and does not waste much time to fix a reasonable cost at an inter-ministerial meeting, it will be a move in the right direction. The authorities may also think of providing loans to job seekers to help them in their frantic effort to meet the migration cost.
Overall, one can only hope that the authorities will jolt themselves out of their indifference to the plight of expatriate workers and act expeditiously to put in place measures to fix a reasonable migration cost and implement it without any delay to save overseas job-seekers, considering the fact that remittances from migrant workers, along with export earnings by the apparel sector, still remain the mainstay of the economy.

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