The Financial Express

Widening overseas job market 

| Updated: November 20, 2022 22:09:11

- Representational image - Representational image

Manpower export, the country's second largest source of foreign currency earning, reportedly showed falling trend last month compared to previous two months (August and September). Normally, the rate of outflow of foreign-bound workers is never a constant quantity. But since this happens when recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in the major Middle Eastern destinations including Saudi Arabia has fallen in recent months, it should be a cause for concern. In this connection, the figures provided by the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) on the state of migrant workers show that Saudi Arabia in October employed 26.63 per cent fewer Bangladeshi workers than it did in September. The employment rate was further down (by 35.95 per cent) if compared to the August's number. But if the comparison is made with the employment figures (of Bangladeshi workers) in that particular host nation for the months of June and March, it would be further concerning. For the employment was higher by more than 58 per cent in June and by 61 per cent in March. The question that would naturally arise is what lay behind this particular Gulf nation's recruiting fewer Bangladeshi workers in recent months than before? For unlike the oil-importing nations, where high energy price is driving up inflation and recession, Saudi Arabia is in a rather stable position as it is a major oil exporting country.  

So, it is indeed intriguing why it (Saudi Arabia) should be employing fewer foreign workers now than in the past. However, a spokesperson of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) has come up with an explanation on the issue. It is that of the various reasons causing the delay in recruiting process, the failure of the recruiters to submit the overseas jobseekers' passports to the Saudi embassy duly is one. This has slowed to some extent the outflow of migrant workers recently, he argued. Even so, the reasons behind a similar fall in the recruitment rate of Bangladeshi workers in other Gulf countries including Oman and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) in the past months need to be clarified. Be that as it may, the ministry concerned will be required to look into the issue seriously and take measures to improve the situation. 

To be fair, the development calls for carrying out a further study to see if the negative trends in the manpower sector are incidental or if those have any deeper cause. It may be noted at this point that the foreign remittance has been witnessing a downward trend since the beginning of the current year though during the first few months the trend in the outward flow of migrant workers was rather on the higher side. This paradoxical situation has been attributed to a mix of factors including the exchange rate of taka against US dollar. 

Evidently, unscrupulous money exchangers, in particular, took full advantage of this situation. As a result, a huge amount of foreign remittance is being lost to the illegal transaction of money through hundi. In this regard, the central bank should be able to take urgent steps to stop the flight of the hard-earned remittance dollars in this manner. It is also time dependence of our migrant workers on a few host countries in a particular region is reduced and the government worked vigorously to widen the overseas job market further. The good news is Malaysia, a Southeast Asian destination of our workers, is opening up again. The authorities concerned will be required to make the most of the opportunity. 

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