December 4, 2023, 6:37 am

Rajib Kanti Roy

2022-09-21 20:47:48 BdST

Bangladesh failing to leverage reopening of Malaysian labour market

Bangladesh may lose the Malaysian manpower market due to the delay in completing the formalities by the authorities concerned.

The market was opened after a 47-month hiatus with sending 53 workers four weeks ago.

Sector insiders blame the agencies and authorities of the two countries for the situation and fear that Bangladesh may lose the potential market due to such delays.

According to Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), some 16,500 calling visas have been issued but only 1,200 workers have been sent to Malaysia so far.

The labour welfare wing at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur has completed attestation of around 40,000 applications till Monday against a total of 70,000 applications submitted, confirmed sources at the High Commission.

“We have been visiting companies and verifying the documents of the companies and workers. We are even working during the holidays to meet the demand of the situation,” said Nazmus Sadat Salim, Minister (Labour) at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.

Sources at the High Commission said the process of issuing recruitment approval is slow in Bangladesh and the agencies sending workers from Bangladesh are also failing to prove their competence.

Against the backdrop, the new leadership of BAIRA opined that the opportunities of sending workers by recruiting agencies should be open for all.

“The syndication in sending workers has gone against the interest of workers and ordinary agencies.

The ministry did a mistake by allowing the Malaysian government to select agencies on its own. It should review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and add a provision of giving the workers freedom for selecting their recruiting agencies as per their wish,” said Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, the newly elected secretary general of BAIRA.

He said BAIRA has already sent a letter to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment to open the market for all of its members in order to ensure a fair competition among the agencies.

The secretary general of BAIRA said, “When attestation of about 40,000 applications has been completed and calling visas have been issued to 16,500 workers, then why have we sent only 1,200 workers so far? It is because the agencies sending workers to Malaysia are not competent.”

He said if the process continues to linger, the country may lose the potential market to different other source countries including Nepal.

Asked about the responsibility of any irregularities in case of allowing all the agencies in sending workers to Malaysia, Noman said, “There is no scope of irregularities. We, along with the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment, can work together to eradicate any ill effort.”

The Malaysian labour market was reopened for Bangladeshi workers on August 8 this year as some 53 aspirant workers left Dhaka for Kuala Lumpur through an AirAsia flight.

Earlier, an MoU was signed between Bangladesh and Malaysia on December 19 last year, 40 months after the Southeast Asian country suspended hiring Bangladeshi workers over widespread allegations of malpractices in the recruitment process and charging higher costs from labourers by recruitment agencies through middlemen.

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