Sending migrant workers BD-Malaysia agree to review MoU signed in 2021

06 February 2023

Staff Reporter :
The governments of Bangladesh and Malaysia have finally agreed to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries in December 19, 2021 to make the process of sending migrant workers easier and faster along with lower migration cost.
In the Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting to be held this month, the issues would be discussed and finalised, Bangladesh's Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmed said at a briefing after separate bilateral meetings with visiting Malaysian Home Minister Saifuddin Nasusan Ismail held at Probashi Kallyan Bhaban on Sunday.
Before the briefing, Imran Ahmed held at meeting at his ministry conference room while Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal also held a separate meeting with the visiting Malaysian Home Minister at state guest house Padma in Dhaka.
While briefing media, the Expatriate Welfare Minister said, "Changes in the MoU for the benefit of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia, and reduction of immigration costs among other things came up in the meeting. A working group meeting will be held between Dhaka-Kuala Lumpur this month to decide on these issues."
"Everything that is related to our interests has been discussed. Everything including the matter of migration cost has been discussed. One thing must be remembered, this is a new government. Whatever we talked about with the previous government, now there will be a big change. The Malaysian minister has assured this," he added.
Imran Ahmed said, "There is a matter of changing the MoU. More changes will be made if necessary. But the Malaysian minister doesn't want to give the final decision yet. I believe that taking the responsibility he talked about the matter. Hope, we will get something good from the meeting."
The Expatriate Welfare Minister, however, did not respond to questions on increasing the number of recruiting agencies to send workers to Malaysia.
While talking to reporters after the meeting, Malaysian Home Minister Saifuddin Nasusan Ismail said, "I will take this opportunity to update the Bangladesh government on two things. One is the worker relaxation plan. We will speed up the process of hiring and the Malaysian government commits to reduce the migration cost."
"Another issue is the recalibration programme," he said, adding, "There are many illegal workers in Malaysia including Bangladeshis. They are being legalised through a process. This programme has started from January 27 this year. I would like to inform that 55 per cent of the legalisation of the workers we have approved in a week was Bangladeshi workers."
"We have reduced the approval time. Previously it used to take 20 to 30 days. Now approval is given in two to three days. This is a major policy change of our government," he further added.
After the meeting with Malaysian home minister, Bangladesh's Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal hasn't talked to the media at State guesthouse Padma.
Bangladesh and Malaysia on December 19, 2021 signed a MoU on the employment of Bangladeshi workers in the Southeast Asian country keeping the provision to select the migrants sending recruiting agencies to the Malaysian authorities. Taking the advantage of the provision, Malaysian authorities have selected only 100 recruiting agencies for sending migrants there from Bangladesh.
The MoU was widely criticised by the recruiting agencies and other stakeholders for allowing a limited number of agencies to send workers from a list of 1,620 valid agencies Bangladesh sent to the country.
Though Bangladesh government fixed the migration cost at around Tk m79,000, workers are forced to pay Tk 3 to 4 lakh to the agencies, according to the various allegations from the stakeholders.
Around 70,000 Bangladeshi workers have migrated to Malaysia till last January after the signing MoU in December 2021 against the demand letters of around 2.5 lakh the Malaysian government sent.
Earlier at a meeting with the delegation of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), an apex body of the recruiting agents, held at Hotel InterContinental in Dhaka, Malaysian Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail expressed his dissatisfaction in the workers' recruitment process from Bangladesh.
BAIRA Chief Adviser Mohd Noor Ali led the delegation while its Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, former Secretary General Ali Haider Chowdhury, Senior Vice President Reaz Ul Islam, Vice President Abul Barakat Bhuiyan, Joint Secretary General Fakhrul Islam and Finance Secretary Mizanur Rahman were present at Saturday's meeting with the visiting Malaysian minister.
During the meeting, the BAIRA leaders urged the Malaysian minister to open the labour market for Bangladesh like Malaysia did with Nepal and other migrants sending countries, to better safeguard the interest of workers and all BAIRA members.
In the meeting, Saifuddin discussed key issues with the BAIRA leaders including health screening service, auto-rotation among recruiting agencies, and lack of an adequate number of e-Visa processing centres.He informed that Malaysia may decide to bypass these recruiting procedures, and initiate a fast-track system to bring in up to 5.5 lakh Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia, similarly to other sourcing countries such as Nepal, meeting sources said.

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