Costs of migration can outweigh dividends!

Dhaka,  Sat,  03 December 2016
Published : 01 Dec 2016, 21:53:03

Costs of migration can outweigh dividends!

Marksman
The projected remittance inflow estimated at $25 billion in  half a decade's time is music to the ear! Your auditory nerves may be soothed by it despite the  lilt being mixed with a  harsher note, on and off.

At any rate, we have  gotten used to a net  flow of earnings which has been a macro-economic pillar of our  economy  being also a  stimulant for rural uplift. At this stage  we need to refocus  on two things: First, we remind ourselves of how much sweat and tears   our job-seekers and workers  overseas have to  shed to  produce the jingle of coins  we so much like to hear!

As a token of recognition and  gratitude, we  must  reciprocate through  courtesies shown to  them on  their arrival back home. But before that, more crucially, our embassies abroad  must have extended their wings over them as 'something of home away from home'. They are on the field to ensure that there's  no breach of contractual obligations  on the part of employing companies or host governments. Any  form of  degrading behaviour will have to be protested and the victims secured against  by sensitising potential perpetrators with this  powerful message:   Workers' rights to humane treatment are inviolable and that as  contributors to the host economy they are actually guest workers.

The second  imperative going forward lies in encouraging and facilitating recruitment and passage of workers through proper and organised channels. If we are to exploit the full potential of remittance earning for the country we have shun desperation and misadventure that expose us to fatal dangers. Those intent on securing overseas employment must not allow themselves to be lured into the traps of traffickers. The bail-out or untangling costs put them into a direr strait.

There  is no El Dorado in today's world; you have only to look at the US and Europe to realize the truth of the statement. If free movement of people was an elusive dream beforehand, even the word  migration today is taken with a grain of salt by  liberals while the expanding far-right constituencies in Europe are  opposed vehemently to it.  Ideological terrorism is like a triple-edged  sword, if you like: First, it  gives cause for attacks on where its protagonists are holed up; secondly, caught up in a desperate battle of survival, the extremists  carry out terror attacks to make their presence felt; and third, migration is suspected of spawning terrorism so is unwelcome. In the process, the root causes of a dangerously polarised world remain unaddressed.

However, on the important subject of   organised migration of labour from Bangladesh, we are confronted with a concerning research result. A BRAC presentation, made last Saturday at a national consultation on 'Recruitment  for Overseas Employment: Opportunities and Challenges' highlighted the irony that Bangladeshi migrant workers spend much higher on migration than they earn abroad. The migration costs range from Tk 200,000 to Tk 800,000 for Middle East-bound workers; Tk 200,000 to Tk 600,000 for Malaysia  and Tk 300,000 to Tk 850 for Singapore.

In stark contrast, the salary brackets are as follows: Tk 16000 to Tk 38000; Tk 20,000 to Tk 30,000; and Tk 30,000 to Tk 50,000 per month respectively.

Involvement of middlemen in differ layers of  migration process increases the costs of migration. It is also noted that despite the government's announcement of zero cost for female migration, a section of recruiters defies  the instruction-- with impunity! Little wonder, the migration costs for different destinations fixed  by the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training(BMET) are not complied with.

Against this backdrop, we endorse the recommendations of the Consultation to go for e-recruitment system combined with  cost management underpinnings and a decentralised  migration service.   

Safarihi43@gmail.com

 
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