Workers' migration cost 450% higher than govt rate

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 07:30, May 26, 2019 | Updated : 07:30, May 26, 2019

A general view of Bangladeshi passport. SAZZAD HOSSAIN/File PhotoMigrant workers now have to spend up to Tk 750,000 to go to Saudi Arabia, almost 450% more than what the government has fixed, according to a recent report by the WARBE Development Foundation.
The report titled ‘Bangladesh Annual Migration Report 2018’, was unveiled during a consultation meeting of the Parliamentary Caucus on Migration and Development at the Parliament Members Club on Saturday (May 23).
According to the report, the Bangladesh government has fixed Tk 165,000 as the cost of migration for outbound workers going to Saudi Arabia, but they currently have to pay between Tk 650,000 and 750,000.
In 1985, cost of migrating to Saudi Arabia was Tk 20,000 while the average monthly income of migrant workers was Tk 8,000. At present, a migrant worker earns Tk 15,000 to 30,000 per month.
Although migration costs have increased by 32 to 38 times for the country, average monthly income has gone up by only 2 to 4 times.
Like Saudi Arabia, the government has fixed Tk 117,780 as the cost of migrating to Lebanon. However, in practice, the migrants are paying as high as Tk 600,000 to go to the country.
The report said: “It is a matter of concern that over time, income from overseas employment is not growing as much as the migrant recruitment cost. As a result, economic benefit from migration is eroding over time.
"The growing mismatch between income and recruitment cost, although not halting the migration flow, is increasing the burden on migrants tremendously,” it added.
Over 12 million have gone abroad as migrant workers from Bangladesh since 1976. REUTERSOverseas employment down by 27%
The report stated that the total overseas employment dropped from 1,008,525 in 2017 to 734,181 in 2018 — a 27% fall from last year.
Overseas employment of women fell from 121,925 in 2017 to 101,695 in 2018.
"The country witnessed a 16% fall in female overseas employment, while male employment fell by 28%," said the report.
Recruitment to Saudi Arabia alone fell from 551,308 in 2017 to 257,317 in 2018.
While presenting the keynote speech at the meeting, Syeed Ahamed, CEO of the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID), said: “In the previous fiscal year [2017-18], allocation for the expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry was Tk 5.94 billion, standing at 0.13% of total budget.
"However, in 2018-2019 fiscal, the allocation for the ministry dropped to Tk 900 million,” he added.
File photo of Migrant workers at Hazrat Shahjalal International AirportDeputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Mia raised question about lowering the budget allocation for this sector.
“The Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment implemented 72% of budget allocated for them, but why did its budget allocation decrease?" asked Mia, who was the chief guest.
He added that remittance sent by migrant workers played a big role in Bangladesh's GDP growth.
On Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal to give migrant workers a 3% cash incentive to encourage them to send remittance through official channels.