Cut migration cost to benefit workers: speakers

Staff Correspondent
Cut migration

Guests attend a public hearing on ‘Economic and Social Cost of Migration’ organised by RMMRU at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital on Thursday. — New Age photo

Migration experts, rights bodies and government officials on Thursday underscored the need for taking multilateral steps to cut the migration cost, which is highest in the world.
They also stressed the need for presenting the issue of migration cost and its positive impact on the economy of Bangladesh at the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development meeting, to be held in Dhaka this December. Many nations, who provide jobs to Bangladeshi workers, will attend the meeting.
The experts made their remarks while speaking at a public hearing on ‘Economic and Social Cost of Migration’ organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit under the auspices of Bangladesh Civil Society Coordination Committee for GFMD in partnership with Manila based Migrant Forum in Asia, at CIRDAP auditorium.
RMMRU founding chair Tasneem Siddiqui moderated the event and stated that migrants endured a lot of economic and social costs that are not always acknowledged.
Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque, chairman of the GFMD 2016, speaking as chief guest, said it is the responsibility of the government to keep the migration cost at rational level at home and ensure the rights of the outgoing workers.
‘We fail to address the issue of high migration cost as the black marketers who have involved themselves with migration have developed links with grassroots,’ he said.
The foreign secretary also requested the job seekers to avoid going to Libya, Iraq and Syria, at this point.
In his opening statement, C R Abrar of Dhaka University cited a recent World Bank sponsored study that found Bangladeshi workers were paying much higher than many of the neighbouring countries.
He said a less-skilled worker of Sri Lanka who landed in Kuwait spent only one month’s Kuwaiti wage for his migration.
The study revealed that an Indian worker spent 2.5 months worth of Kuwaiti wages but a Bangladeshi paid as much as 9 months of worth of his Kuwaiti income.
Sharmin Akter, wife of Abu Hossain of Gazipur said that her husband flew to Bahrain in 2015 by paying Tk 450,000 to a recruiting agency. As a construction worker, the man sent home back Tk 300,000 in a year and the remittance was being used to pay the loans, she said. He flew there on a two-year contract.
The wife said she could do nothing for the family as there was no savings out of the remittances.
Md Aktaruzzaman, a migrant hailing from Comilla, said, he returned home from Libya on March 31 this year after experiencing severe starvation and joblessness. His migration cost was Tk 5.5 lakh, he said.
Some 45 migrants and their family members provided testimonies of the cost that were incurred during migration. From 2013 until recently, the highest cost paid by the migrants, was recorded Tk 12 lakh, for flying to Saudi Arabia. On an average, a worker pays Tk 3.50 lakh to fly to Middle Eastern destinations.
Expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry additional secretary Jabed Ahmed said that his ministry was trying to ensure safe migration to outbound workers.
Representatives from across the stake holders, migration rights bodies, including BRAC, WARBE Foundation, OKUP, SHISUK, BOMSA, BNWLA and BASTOB, attended the meeting.

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