Manpower export to Singapore on downswing

Bangladesh can send workers through the online system

Arafat Ara | Published: July 21, 2018 11:00:25 | Updated: July 22, 2018 15:02:08

A representational image/Collected

The outflow of Bangladeshi workers to Singapore declined significantly in last three years due to various reasons including an image crisis which was created over arrest of some Bangladeshi nationals there, sector insiders said.

Development work also remained slow in the Southeast Asian country, leaving an impact on overall outbound jobs of Bangladeshi workers, they said.

More than 10,000 Bangladeshi workers went to Singapore each month earlier, said Hassan Ahamed Chowdhury Kiron, secretary general of the Labour Sending Organisations of Singapore (LSOS).

Currently the number of migrant workers dropped to 2,000, he added.

Since 2016 the Singaporean authorities has been reducing the number of Bangladeshi workers in their sensitive zones.

Besides, construction work remained slow in Singapore. So, the number of outbound workers dropped sharply, Mr Kiron said.

Twenty-seven Bangladeshi workers were detained in Singapore for their alleged involvement with terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

The Bangladeshis working in the construction industry were arrested under Internal Security Act (ISA) between November 16 and December 01 in 2015.

According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) data, a total of 19,517 Bangladeshis went to Singapore in the last six months of the current year.

Singapore hired 40,401 Bangladeshi workers in 2017 and 54,730 in 2016, the data showed.

Due to shrinkage of job opportunities in Singapore, at least three labour sending organisations stopped their activities.

Other organisations were also closely observing the situation, Mr Kiron said. The government should deal with the issue bilaterally, he added.

Bangladesh can provide parental guarantee to its workers so that Singapore stays reassured about Bangladeshi workers, he said.

Manpower recruiters, however, said visa trading should also be prevented. Like the Philippines and Indonesia, Bangladesh can send workers through the online system.

The Singaporean authorities have allowed some 14 organisations to hire workers.

But a section of unauthorised manpower recruiters are sending workers to Singapore charging high migration fees.

It is an unethical practice which creates a bad image about Bangladesh, the sector insiders said.

Bangladeshi workers spend up to Tk 800,000 each to get a job in Singapore. But the official rate is Tk 260,000.

A senior official at the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment claimed that the trend in migration of Bangladeshi workers to Singapore remained as usual.

The official also said he does not know about the closure of some labour sending organisations.

During the period between 1979 and June 2018, a total of 710,952 Bangladeshis went to Singapore with jobs, the BMET statistics showed.

Most of them are engaged in the construction and shipyard sector.

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