Staff Correspondent: Minister for Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed has said that the expatriates trapped in different parts of the world including Lebanon will be repatriated at full government cost.
He was speaking at a press briefing at the conference room of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment on the occasion of International Migrants Day 2020 on Friday (December 18).
Today is International Migrants Day. This time the theme is: Mujib's call, go abroad efficiently. This year's main and national program will be held on January 8. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has kindly agreed to be virtually present as the chief guest at the event.
In a written statement, Imran Ahmed said that the importance of foreign employment in the socio-economic development of Bangladesh and the elimination of unemployment is immense. Approximately 20 to 25 lakh workers are being added to the labor market in this country every year. About seven to eight lakh people go to different countries for foreign employment every year through the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare. According to BMET statistics, 7,159 workers went abroad in 2019. But now the epidemic coronavirus and the economic downturn in various destination countries have reduced foreign employment. In the event of this Corona epidemic, the Ministry will provide comprehensive protection, including socio-economic re-integration of expatriate workers and their families at home and abroad, retention of the existing labor market, exploration of new labor markets, With the reopening of the closed labor market, Corona has given priority to creating skilled workers in line with the demands of the international labor market. To this end, the ministry has taken various steps during the Corona epidemic.
Among the activities undertaken are: 14 inter-ministerial meetings with concerned ministries / offices / agencies to resolve the problems of expatriate Bangladeshis expeditiously, special allocation of Tk. A total of 206 women workers at the Saudi Deportation Center in Corona have been repatriated by the Wage Earners Welfare Board, while 95 workers from Lebanon and 105 stranded in Vietnam have been repatriated. During the lockdown, from April 29 to May 31, 5,984 workers returning from abroad were given immediate financial assistance of Tk 2.96 crore at the airport at the rate of Tk 5,000 per person.
The expatriate welfare bank is making arrangements to provide investment loan of Tk 200 crore on easy terms to the repatriated workers affected by the corona and to the eligible family members of the worker who died in the corona. The main activities of this loan have been started from the funds of Wage Earners Welfare Board through Prabasi Kalyan Bank from last 15th July at only 4 percent simple interest and easy terms. Under this, till December 14, 411 borrowers have already been given loans of Tk 6 crore.
The government has approved an allocation of Tk 500 crore in favor of Prabasi Kalyan Bank to provide loans on easy terms to returning workers abroad. It has already started distributing around Tk 200 crore at 9 per cent interest for male workers and 6 per cent interest for female workers. This project of enhancing the skills of expatriate workers and strengthening the welfare services of expatriate workers is expected to be implemented expeditiously with World Bank funding.
Imran Ahmed said there are 64 TTCs and 6 IMTs across the country with the aim of creating skilled workers. Construction work of 40 TTCs at the upazila level is in the final stage. There are plans to build 100 more TTCs at the upazila level to commemorate the year of the great liberation war under the special initiative of Mujibvarsha. The work of formulating its DPP has already been completed.
He said in the election manifesto of the present government, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised to employ an average of 1,000 people from each upazila abroad every year. In the last financial year, on an average, more workers were sent abroad than this number. In the near future, initiatives have been taken to provide employment to at least 1000 people from each upazila abroad.
The minister said a section of expatriate workers have returned to the country. From April 1 to November 30, 3 lakh 26 thousand 758 expatriate workers have returned to the country. Many of them have returned to the country at the end of their tenure or without work. However, it was feared that the economic downturn and the impact of the corona would cause many foreign workers to become unemployed due to the collapse of the labor market in the major employer countries. But hopefully, the number of returning workers so far has not become alarming. The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Mission and Embassy have simultaneously played a positive role in this regard.
Secretary of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Ahmed Munirus Salehin answered various questions of the media personnel at the press conference.
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