Economic recovery

Bangladesh Bank stresses manpower export

Experts want proactive govt role in addressing migrant issues  

Shakhawat Hossain       | Published: 00:26, Sep 26,2020


Identifying overseas employment as a key to recovery of the country’s falling economy, the Bangladesh Bank in a report has said that manpower export is still facing risks due to uncertainties already affecting the global economy due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BB in its April–June quarterly review on September 23 said that the government announced over Tk one lakh crore stimulus packages to tackle the economic fallout from the 66-day COVID-19 shutdown since March 26.

In addition to the timely implementation of the stimulus packages, manpower export would play a critical role in the recovery of the economic growth in the second half of 2020, and in 2021, said the report.

Experts observed that the government needed to  be proactive to deal with the manpower-recruiting countries so that the record flow of remittance — $18.21 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year — from nearly one crore expatriates working abroad could be sustained in the coming fiscal years.

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies general secretary Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman on Thursday said that almost no overseas jobs were created over the last five months.

Before the virus pandemic hit the country in March, Bangladesh was able to send only one lakh people to the country’s major manpower-recruiting destinations, mainly Middle-East countries, while another one lakh were ready to fly for their workplaces.

In recent years, seven lakh people on average sought overseas jobs annually with 85 per cent of them in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone.      

It is now good news for the recruiting agencies under BAIRA after the manpower exports resumed to the KSA, said BAIRA general secretary.

He expected that the government would manage the COVID-19 pandemic in such a way that no negative impression was created about Bangladeshi workers among the manpower-recruiting nations.

In July Italy imposed a ban on arrivals from Bangladesh until October 5 this year amid a scandal that fake coronavirus certificates were issued by some private medical hospitals in the country.

Meanwhile, the job holders in the KSA have demonstrated in the capital demanding the availability of flights to that country. 

The BB has also emphasised on the readymade garment exports for a quick recovery of the country’s economic growth that was only 5.2 per cent in 2019-2020 in place of the projected 8.2 per cent.

Former BB governor Salehuddin Ahmed said that the country mainly sent unskilled manpower to the overseas job destinations, which has always been a challenge.

Unskilled manpower would now be demanded less in the current situation, he said.

Only 13 lakh job seekers are employed in the oil-rich Arab countries, Malaysia and Singapore every year while 21 lakh youths become eligible for the job market.

But this year around 1,27,000 migrant workers returned home from different countries, mostly from the Middle-East ones, said expatriate welfare ministry additional secretary Md Shahidul Alam at a virtual discussion on September 19.

It is also apprehended that around 2–2.5 lakh migrants might return home in the next two months while more than 3 lakh would not be able to go abroad during the time.

CR Abrar, the executive director of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, criticised the government efforts in dealing with the migrants.

He said that the government was trying to manage the COVID-19-caused crises on an ad-hoc basis.

The government has announced Tk 700 crore under stimulus packages for the welfare of the migrants but various conditions discouraged most of the migrants to seek loans, said the BAIRA general secretary.

He said that the contribution of the migrants in the economy was immense.

In July-August of FY21, the inflow of remittance increased by 50 per cent to $4.56 billion against $3.04 billion in the same period of the past year.

The remittance inflow in FY20 was $18.21 billion that largely helped the country with the balance of payment.

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