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Overseas Employment

Investment needed for creating effective human capital

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05th-May-2019       
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Dr. Md. Moniruzzaman :
Overseas employment is a very crucial issue for a country like Bangladesh with a big population of around 160 million and high density of population, 1252 per sqm. It is a big challenge of the Government for creating employment of all the active labour force. But overseas employment sector is being more competitive and faced with many difficulties and challenges. Bangladesh is not only a country but there are a number of countries sending labour force to other countries. Here, I would like to focus on the challenges we face for overseas employment of our labour forces and the trend of remittance inflow.
Remittance is one of the most important economic indicators in Bangladesh as it influences the country's balance of payments, foreign exchange reserve, national savings, reserve money and money supply. Remittance earning is increasing day by day and is now the second largest source of foreign exchange earnings after exports. A migrant worker seeking employment abroad faces a lot of problems and challenges. However, concerns that manpower brokers both in the laboor sending and destination countries often engage in unethical practices that cause enormous despair for the aspirant migrant workers. Migration as well as remittance contributes to a significant reduction in poverty and economic development of our country. On the other hand it has many unmeasured impacts. In this paper, the researcher conducted a research using primary and secondary data to reveal the real impact of remittance on the socio-economic condition of Bangladesh.
It is worthwhile to mention here that after independence of the country under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, we started diplomatic initiatives for sending our unemployed labour force to Middle-East. We began to send labour force in 1976. With a slow started with only 6 countries now we are sending our workforce to around 160 countries of the world. Emphasizing the importance of this sector Government of Bangladesh set up a separate new Ministry separate Ministry namely The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) on 20 December 2001 with its main objectives to ensure welfare of the expatriate workers and enhancement of overseas employment with a principle of equal opportunity for the people of all areas of the country. As per the allocation of business the Ministry is entrusted with the responsibility of formulating policies, plans, enacting laws, rules and regulations, developing projects, programmes and monitoring related to the management of overseas employment as well as overall welfare concerned of the expatriate workers.
After the creation of the new Ministry a momentum has been gathered in this sector because the whole sector is disciplined. The Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) with its District Manpower Offices (DMOs), Bangladesh Overseas Employment Services Limited (BOESL) and Wage Earner's Welfare Fund (WEWF) are now functioning under this Ministry. In order to facilitate financial support to the migrant workers a specialized Bank namely Probashi Kalyan Bank (PKB) has been created. At present 30 labour wings are working in our foreign missions in UAE, Qatar, Libya, Oman, Malaysia, KSA, Singapore, South Korea, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Brunei, Greece, Austria, Egypt, Spain, Switzerland, Maldives, Russia, Hong Kong (China), Thailand, Mauritius, Kuwait, Lebanon and South Africa. The mandate of the labour wings is ensure the welfare of Bangladeshi workers and to create new employments opportunities for our working labour- force.  
 Starting in 1976 the picture overseas employment is given in the following graph:
In 1976 total yearly employment was only 6087 and remittance inflow was recorded around 24 million US$. In a decade after in 1985 the employment figure was recorded as 77694 and the remittance was 500 million US$. The next decade the employment recorded as 186326 and the remittance became more than double as 1154 million US$ in 1994. This situation continued for the next decades, in 2012 the employment recorded as 607798 and the remittance figure was 14163 million US$, in 2018 total employment was 500694 and the remittance figure was 10750.
Among the Asian countries India (US$ billion 55.50) is the highest remittance recipient country in 2010 followed by Bangladesh (US$ billion 11.10), Pakistan (US$ billion 9.40), Sri Lanka (US$ billion 3.60) and Nepal (US$ billion 3.50) (Source: IMF's BOP Statistics Yearbook, 2010)
Challenges
A migrant worker faces three types of challenges, one before leaving the country, the second one in the host country and the third one is after returning at the home country.
Before departure,  the challenges include high cost of migration, lengthy time for completion of recruitment process, not much idea and knowledge about the job status, condition, pays and perk, harassment of 'dalal or middlemen', exploitation of recruiting agencies etc.
They also face a number of challenges in the host county as well, which include exploited by the companies, placed in wrong job, low salary and other benefits, inappropriate job, less overtime facilities, improper housing facilities, false and fake terms and conditions, harassed by overseas dalal,  middlemen and officials of immigration department,  etc.  
When they return from overseas they also face a number of problems in home country.
· Family members spend the remittances injudiciously in the absence of the migrants. When he/she comes back from overseas, almost nothing left for them rather they face have to new pressure of indebtedness.
· They face some social and mental problems. Some of them lost their parents or close relatives while staying at abroad. There may some mental and psychological shock they have to absorb. Who bears the cost of this shock?
· In case of newly married expatriate, the spouse has to face different social obstacles, even sexual harassments.
· The local land grabbers try to displace the family members by pressure and the migrants have to face different types of litigations including civil disputes.
· Returning home many migrants find difficulties to get to be involved in suitable jobs or previous occupation.

In order to face the challenges the following measures could be taken:
·    To develop our manpower with proper knowledge, skill etc as per the need and requirement of the host country;
· The labour wings of Bangladesh mission abroad should have proper marketing plan and  the labour counsellors or labour attachés  should try all out efforts in executing the marketing plan they prepare;
· Expatriates' bank should more branches in the rural areas to facilitate financial support to the aspirant migrants;
· A complete database is needed from which the prospective employers could choose their desired workforce through the Bangladesh mission in the respective country;
· The family members of the migrant workers in home country should be provided enough security and other protection, if required, from the government agencies and local administration;
· There should be no unscrupulous middlemen other than the legal representatives of the recruiting agencies;
· The case of human trafficking should be handled with strictly as per the provision of the laws of the land;
· The District and Upazila Administration could help the prospective migrants with necessary information, authenticity of the offer etc;
· Workers with relevant skill should be employed with respective trade or fields of work;
· Enforcement of the Trafficking Act should be streamlining so that no one could be a victim of false migration.
· The job offer with all terms and conditions should properly be justified by the mission's officials;
· The mission cloud be strengthen by proper officials;
· The attitude of mission's officials should reoriented and pro-workers in rendering the necessary services.
· Diplomatic relationship could be cemented more with the countries of our interest for overseas employment.
At the end we can say that Bangladesh is one of the major labour sending countries in the world. This sector earns second highest amount of foreign exchange after exports of goods and services and it has positive impact on the socio-economic conditions of Bangladesh. In order to reap full benefits we cave to capitalize the potentials of this sector by investing in shill and education for creating effective human capital.  

(Dr. Md. Moniruzzaman, Associate Professor, Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management, email:monir 65@gmail.com)

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