Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry additional secretary Dr. Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said that curbing unethical practices including high cost of migration was one the major challenges of labour migration in Bangladesh.
‘The government is committed to reducing the cost of migration to a reasonable limit,’ he said.
He also said that the government has taken various measures including fixing the maximum amount of migration cost for 16 main destination countries but many of the measures could not yield expected outcomes due to various factors.
‘The pervasive presence of unscrupulous dalals or middlemen in the process of overseas recruitment has been identified as a major cause of unethical recruitment,’ he said.
Referring to the first meeting of the National Steering Committee on expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry, he mentioned that the prime minister categorically mentioned the presence of the middlemen in the process and the way they allure people with false dreams of overseas employment.
‘The Honourable prime minister gave directive to bring the delinquent persons to book. In this respect, it is high time that the middlemen engaged in the process of overseas recruitment were brought within a certain accountability framework,’ he said.
Munirus Saleheen mentioned that the parliamentary standing committee on Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment had also suggested bringing the middlemen within a legal framework.
‘Since the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013 doesn’t have any specific provision to bring the middlemen within some framework of accountability, the Ministry is thinking of incorporating this provision in the law and making rules and guidelines for this purpose,’ he said.
EWOE ministry official also said that effective mechanisms for ensuring accountability of recruiting agents as well as their sub-agents will improve migration governance to a great extent.
‘Now we talk not only of safe, orderly and regular migration, but also of responsible migration. Accountability is a precondition for being responsible. That’s why I think bringing the middlemen within a legal framework has been demanded and recommended by migration activists.’
He said that given the prevailing situation in overseas recruitment system in our country, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to do away with middlemen. ‘That is why we had better legally recognise them and make them accountable and responsible for what they do.’
He also said that the way they operate and remain invisible in the eye of the law and also to the monitoring system, not only contributes to unethical practices but also jeopardises the position of a recruiting agent.
‘Because at the end of the day recruiting agents alone have to shoulder the responsibility of all wrongdoings whether they are committed by them or their sub-agents,’ he said, adding that in this respect the recruiting agents should cooperate with the government in formulating an effective policy for regulating their sub-agents or sub sub-agents.
Munirus Saleheen said that if the government could make sure that each and every aspiring migrant would be skilled to make an informed decision regarding overseas employment, the role of middlemen would be automatically reduced.
He said that the government has already taken various initiatives for mass awareness with special focus on the importance of skilled migration.
‘Another approach to reducing migration cost as well as unethical practices is building a comprehensive databank of the aspiring migrants from which recruiters themselves will be able to select eligible workers as per their requirement.’
He identified the alternative approach as strengthening monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. ‘The ministry is working towards this end as well.’
He said that regulating agents and sub-agents would efficiently and effectively require well-coordinated participation of all stakeholders including recruiting agents.
‘The government is committed to strengthening participation in this regard. Participation and coordination figure quite prominently in the Global Compact for Migration which came into being following a strong initiative under the leadership of our honourable prime minister.’
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