Budget does not address woes of expatriate occupation, returnees

24 Sep 2020 11:20 AM
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The proposed cover FY 2020-2021 presented in the Jatiya Sangsad on Thursday didn't give directions in solving the issues of the shrinking job market segments of expatriate personnel and the rehabilitation of returnee workers, authorities said.

‘A clear route in the proposed budget was an urgent want, keeping in account the new realities in the expatriate task markets and the COVID-19 pandemic-induced situation,’ migration expert professor CR Abrar told MODERN on Thursday.

Abrar, also a founder of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit and a good teacher at the University of Dhaka, said that the national spending plan had not been a matter of sole allocating funds for different sectors. ‘It is usually a strategic paper and the lack of directions in solving the expatriate employment issues is definitely unfortunate,’ he added. 

Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed a total allocation of Tk 641 crore for the expatiate welfare and overseas ministry for FY 2020-2021, looking for Tk 325 crore for operating expenditure and Tk 316 crore for production expenditure.

He proposed to continue a motivation at the amount of 2 per cent on cash remitted by expatriate Bangladeshis to inspire mailing foreign remittance through legal stations.

Because of the incentive, introduced in the FY 2019-2020, inward remittances grew considerably during July-May of FY 2019-2020 as $16.56 billion have been earned through the period, he said.

The minister indicated that the growth in inward remittance will decelerate at the end of this fiscal because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in main destinations for Bangladeshi migrant workers and the drastic fall in global crude oil prices affecting the West Parts of asia.

The federal government will expand the distribution of low-interest loans to, amongst others, returnee expatriate workers, he added.

Dhaka University development research professor Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir said that remittance profit from expatriate employment have been one of the traveling forces of the Bangladesh market for many years.

About 60,000 persons usually go abroad every for jobs, but this flow stopped since March this season as a result of changes in the employee recipient countries as a result of the fall in crude oil rates and the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

The government could keep in considerations, during making provisions in the budget, at least three aspects - locating new job marketplaces abroad, retraining, reskilling of the returnee staff to ensure employment at home and creating self-employment facilities for a the main returnees.

Extending loans to the returnee staff would not be considered a pragmatic option seeing that potential recipients already are indebted in a variety of ways, he said.

The government should extend support to make sure working capital to the returnees to inspire self-employment and introduce fiscal incentives such as for example tax waiver, he added.   

Currently, above one crore two lakh migrant personnel are working in 174 countries around the world.