The government is set to fix migration cost up to Tk 165,000 for Middle East-bound workers to check arbitrary charges by manpower recruiters, sources said.
The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment finalised the amount recently after consultations with the stakeholders.
Now, the decision is waiting for approval by Expatriates' Welfare Minister Nurul Islam, they said.
The proposed migration cost will be applicable to workers for all job destination countries of the Middle East, said an official at the expatriates' welfare ministry wishing anonymity.
"We have finalised the cost and hope within a week a Government Order (GO) will be issued after getting approval of the expatriates' welfare minister," he added.
He said the authority had taken the initiative to ensure a reasonable migration cost and make manpower recruiters accountable.
Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis are working in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.
The cost of migration, however, remains fixed for Saudi Arabia and Malaysia-bound workers at Tk 165,000 and Tk 37,000 respectively.
The migration cost will be fixed for all other job destination countries gradually, officials also said. They have already taken a move to fix the cost for Singapore-bound workers.
The Bangladesh embassy in Singapore has already proposed the maximum migration cost at Tk 260,000 including all necessary charges for each Singapore-bound worker.
As per the proposal of the Bangladesh mission, the cost will include Tk 55,000 for training and accommodation, Tk 25,000 to Tk 30,000 for air fare and Tk 25,000 to Tk 30,000 for agent fees. Other costs which have to be borne by the workers are Tk 24,500 to Tk 27,000 as test fees to be given to the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in Singapore and company fee Tk 8,000 to Tk 15,000 etc.
The costs will be fixed for building construction, ship building and repairing sector jobs, he said.
However, sector insiders said, it will not be enough to fix a migration cost. The government should introduce a strong monitoring system to check malpractices.
Earlier, securing jobs in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia had cost the job-seekers heavily, they mentioned.
Workers are mostly unable to recover their cost of migration during their job period as it is significantly high, they observed.
They also urged the government to work for reducing visa trading and middleman interferences as those are mostly responsible for hiking the cost of migration.
Unofficial migration costs are, however, now varying from Tk 200,000 to Tk 800,000 for Middle East-bound workers whereas it is Tk 200,000 to Tk 600,000 for workers for Malaysia. Singapore-bound workers spend Tk 300,000 to Tk 850,000 each to secure jobs, according to a report of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).
More than 10 million Bangladeshis went abroad with jobs from 1976 to until February 2017, the Bureau of Manpower, and Employment and Training (BMET) data showed. Bangladeshi workers are employed in 162 countries in the world.