Manpower export posts 14 pc negative growth in December

Imtiaz Ahmed

Bangladesh should explore new labour market this year as manpower export to some important destinations like Malaysia and Oman saw a downward trend during the last couple of months of the last calendar year, according to Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), economists and policy makers.

Manpower export of Bangladesh to different counties in the just concluded month of December posted 13.78 per cent negative growth compared to the previous month of November, according to the Statistics of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).

Bangladesh exported a total of 95,197 workers to different countries during the month of December as against a total of 110,413 workers during month of November 2023.

Bangladesh exported a total of 1305, 453 workers to different countries in just concluded year 2023 posing some 15 per cent growth over the previous year 2023.

Bangladesh exported a total of 1,922 workers during the month of December as the country exported a total of 127,883 workers to the Gulf country.

Saudi Arabia was the top destination of Bangladeshi workers with 497,674 workers (over 38.12 of the market share), followed by Malaysia with 351,683 workers (26.94 per cent), Oman with 127,883 (9.80 per cent), UAE with 98,422 workers (7.54pc), Qatar with 56,418 (4.30), Singapore with 53,265 4.10), Kuwait with 36,548 workers (2.80%), Italy with 16,879 workers (1.29), the UK with 10,383 workers (0.80%), Jordan with 8,626workers (0.66 %), , Japan 9,67 (0.07 % ) and, according to BMET data.

Until August, 2023, for four consecutive months, Malaysia retained the top position in terms of recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in the overseas countries, according to the data of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).

Malaysia recruited a total of 22,252 workers in December 2023, 22,382 workers in November, a total of 21,009 workers in October,  21,520 workers in September, 46,105 workers in August, a total of 40,329 workers in July, a total of 41,438 workers in June and a total of 35,190 workers in May.

Reopening of the Malaysian market in 2022 was a catalyst behind the growth in recent months as the country attracted the second largest number of Bangladeshi workers in a single month after Saudi Arabia.

Recruiting agencies say that Malaysia is a more preferable destination for Bangladeshi workers than Middle Eastern countries because of its comparatively better salary structure and weather conditions that are almost similar to Bangladesh’s.

According to the Malaysian government’s new salary structure, a newly recruited worker will get at least 1,500 Malaysian Ringgit (equivalent to Tk37,000) per month.

The salary range for low-skilled or unskilled workers is between Tk25,000-30,000 in Saudi Arabia.

Currently, Bangladeshi workers are getting recruited in all sectors in Malaysia, including plantations, agriculture, manufacturing, services, mining, construction and household services.

To a question of a downward trend of manpower export to Malaysia during the last couple of months of last year 2023, Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia Md Shameem Ahsan while talking to the press said, “ No, I don’t think so, as recent statistics show that since mid-2022, Malaysian companies have processed more than 500,000 workers’ demand for different sectors through the mission and more than 375,000 Bangladeshi workers have already arrived in Malaysia and engaged in jobs. Our interactions with the local industry players indicate that more demand would be created in the future, when the Malaysian economy would reach full pre-pandemic productivity level. In addition to low/semi-skilled workers, there exists demand for skilled workers and professionals. Note: Malaysia hosts apprx. 1.2 million expatriate nationals which is the second largest concentration after the KSA” .

Bangladesh exported a total of 1305, 453 workers to different countries in just concluded year 2023 posing some 15 per cent growth over the previous year 2023.

Bangladesh exported a total of 1135,873 workers in 2022 the highest number in one year, during the last 52 years and a total of 1,008,525 workers in 2017.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) President Mohammad Abul Bashar while talking to the daily said that Bangladesh would explore new market in the New Year.

Bangladesh exported a total of 307,049 workers to the Southeast Asian country (27.92 per cent of total export) during the January–October period of the current calendar year, according to the Statistics of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET)

Meanwhile, Bangladesh sent around 1.04 lakh workers in January, 109, 059 workers in February, and 109,438 lakh in March, 78,833 workers in April and 101,558 workers in May and 114,175 workers in June and 125,850 workers in July and 138,675 workers in August and 107,584 workers in September,2023 and 110,158 workers in October, 2023, 110,413 workers and 95,197 workers in December, 2023.

Meanwhile,  the decision to suspend the issuance of visas of Bangladeshi nationals is a temporary measure and not political in nature, said the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, Dhaka recently.

“Oman recalls with utmost respect and gratitude the contributions made and being made by Bangladeshi expatriates while it values the close and brotherly relations with the government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,” read a statement from the embassy.

The content of the announcement issued by the Royal Oman Police (ROP) regarding the suspension of the issuance of visas for Bangladeshi nationals comes in the context of a comprehensive review process being conducted by the relevant Omani authorities to streamline the regulation of foreign labour market in line with the needs and stability of Omani labour market in a way that ensures the rights of both workers and employers by labour laws, the embassy said.

The competent authorities are exerting their sincere efforts and are keen to complete the review process as early as possible to resume the visa issuance process afresh by the guidelines and regulations that conclude the review process, it added.

The embassy also said that the review process is based on technical and legal factors that serve and protect the interests of an expatriate worker and the employer as well as ensure the stability of the foreign labour market in Oman.

The Royal Oman Police on Tuesday announced the visa suspension with immediate effect without specifying the reason. The Middle Eastern country also suspended converting all tourist and visit visas to work visas for all nationalities.

Meanwhile, former Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that the government is engaged in discussions with Oman to address the suspension of visa issuance to Bangladeshi nationals.

“The decision came suddenly. It could be a very temporary measure. We have talked to our ambassador. Hopefully, it will be resolved very soon through discussions,” Momen said  while talking to reporters at his ministry last year.

Regarding the suspension, Momen said, “Agencies sent lots of Bangladeshis to Oman without adequate job arrangements, resulting in the move [to suspend issuing new visas].”

He also mentioned that 1.79 lakh Bangladeshis have been sent to Oman in 2022.

“We want to convey a message to Bangladeshis that no one should go illegally. We want regular and orderly migration,” the foreign minister added.

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