Call to integrate pvt sector into global migration agenda

Dhaka,  Sat,  03 December 2016
Published : 01 Dec 2016, 21:55:36

Call to integrate pvt sector into global migration agenda

FE Report


Experts have stressed the need for integration of business entities into migration discourse in line with Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) platform for better understanding its scenario and interrelated policies.

They have also said the inclusion of business mechanism in the discussions of migration issues is crucial as all are the elements of migration such as visa processing, work permit, activities of recruiting agency, and remittance transfer.

The views came at a seminar on 'Consultation on Business Mechanism and Privet Sectors towards GFMD' organised by WARBE Development Foundation Bangladesh in collaboration with Civil Society Coordination Committee (BCSCC) on Wednesday at a city hotel.

WARBE Development Foundation Chairman Side Sinful Hague chaired the session with Parliament Member Ismail Alma as the chief guest, while Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Additional Secretary Mohammad Azharul Huq, former Managing Director of Probashi Kallyan Bank Md Kayes Sami, MasterCard Singapore Holding Pte Ltd Country Manager in Bangladesh Syed Mohammad Kamal, Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) Joint Secretary General-2 Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, Trade Union Centre (TUC) Secretary General Wajedul Islam Khan and British Council's PROKAS Programme Team Leader Catherine Cecil also addressed the programme.

Delivering the chief guest's speech, Israfil Alam said the government has continuously been trying to lower migration cost, but the brokers in connivance with fraudulent recruiting agencies are exploiting the migrant workers charging migration costs two to five times higher than usual.

For instance, he said that the government fixed migration cost per person to Saudi Arabia at Tk 0.165 million (1.65 lakh), while the recruiting agents charge nearly Tk 0.5 million from aspirant workers.

However, the parliamentarian said the current government is the only government to ban around 70 recruiting agencies over time for their unethical activities.

All the payments related to migration should be made through Probashi Kallyan Bank accounts to ensure transparency and accountability, Mr. Alam added.

Expatriates' Ministry Additional Secretary Azharul Huq said ethical recruitment, remittance flow, visa processing - all are different parts of business, so GFMD Business Mechanism is an appropriate platform to discuss interrelated issues.

He, however, expressed the hope that the Finance Ministry will release fund for making Probashi Kallyan Bank fully functional.

MasterCard Country Manager Mr. Kamal said Bangladeshi expatriates send home 34 per cent remittances in the country through informal channels, which should be made formal for better calculation of actual volume of migrants' money.

However, he said Bangladesh has almost achieved Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of lowering remittance transfer cost to 3.0 per cent as the country now charges 3.1 per cent as transfer cost, while it is 8.0 per cent globally and 5.0 per cent in South Asian countries.

WARBE Development Foundation Chairman Saiful Haque emphasised lowering migration cost to the level so that it is on par with neighbouring countries.

Presenting the keynote paper, Deputy Chief (Planning and Development) of the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry KM Ali Reza pointed out five migration policy issues relevant to the private sector including workforce mobility, skill matching to labour market, fair recruitment and decent work, integration of social welfare with migration, and scope of public discourse, perception and attitude.

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