CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman participated as the Chief Guest at the round-table discussion titled Budget and Labour Migration organised by Debate for Democracy on 16 July 2016.
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Published in The Financial Express on Sunday, 17 July 2016
Loan repayment eats up remittances, says CPD executive director
Dr Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), has said migration cost of Bangladeshi workers going for jobs abroad is the highest in the world.
A sizeable portion of workers’ wage earnings is being used to repay loans they take to pay for migration, he said.
The CPD executive director was taking part in a roundtable discussion in Dhaka on Saturday.
He said although 0.6 to 0.7 million Bangladeshis are going abroad each year, remittance earning has not increased. The country’s average remittance income is still 2.50 times less than that of India, he pointed out.
The roundtable discussion on ‘Budget and Labour Migration’ was organised by Debate for Democracy, a non-governmental organisation.
Dr Mustafizur Rahman said, among the SDG indicators, four are migration related. So, safe migration is a vital issue to achieve the goals.
He also emphasised reduction of migration cost and said a significant amount of remittances is being used for repaying loan incurred while going for jobs abroad. “So, net income cannot see a healthy growth”.
The CPD ED also stressed the need for job diversification and long-term plan for this sector.
He suggested a proper budget allocation through relevant ministries and departments to this sector.
Hassan Ahamed Chowdhury Kiron, chairman of Debate for Democracy, presented the keynote paper, while Dr Mustafizur Rahman was the chief guest.
Mr Hassan Ahamed Chowdhury Kiron said although the overseas employment sector has a great contribution to the national economy, it is neglected in terms of budget allocation.
“Only 0.16 per cent of the total budget has been allocated for the migration sector in fiscal year 2016-17,” he said. He urged the government for necessary budgetary allocation for the sector. He also pleaded for quality skill training.
Nurul Islam, Director (Training), the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) said the government has set up a skill development council considering the sector as a vital one. Some 22 ministries are working for skill development.
Published in The Asian Age on Sunday, 17 July 2016
Bangladeshis pay most for migration: CPD
The migration cost for Bangladeshi workers is the highest in the world that eats up a bulk part of the remittance sent by its expatriates, said Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Prof Mustafizur Rahman yesterday. “Bangladeshi workers need to spend huge on going abroad. In many cases, they have to repay double against the loans taken to meet their migration costs,” he told a roundtable discussion.
Debate for Democracy, an association of debaters arranged the roundtable titled ‘Budget and Labor Migration’ at Spectra Convention Centre at Gulshan. Prof Mustafizur Rahman said if Bangladesh wants to find out the net income from the labor migration sector, it has to calculate what amount Bangladesh workers spent on migration.
“The net income of Bangladesh workers is yet to be enough for sustainable livelihood of their families,” he said. Now the migration cost reduction is not a target of only Bangladesh, it has also turned to be a global agenda as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focused on safe migration, he mentioned. Noting that the government has also taken a number of steps to reduce the migration cost, Mustafizur Rahman said the steps need to be widened further.
The CPD Executive Director stressed the need for diversifying labor markets and trades, and taking proper training programs in line with the latest demand of the job markets. Addressing the event, Director (Training) of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) Dr Nurul Islam said the BMET has taken an initiative to conduct a study on job market demand in 50 countries. The BMET will appoint a consultancy firm to carry out the comprehensive study to find out the latest demands in the 50 job markets, he added.
About the standard of the country’s manpower training programs, he said, “We’re now facing a challenge to achieve international standard. We have yet to get a mutual recognition.” The BMET Director, however, said the Finance Minister made a block allocation of Tk 100 crore for human resource development fund in the budget, which is largely for oversees employment. “It’s a big approach as there’ll be no fund crisis for training programs,” he added. Observing that Bangladesh exported some 5.55 lakh workers last year, he said the figure will go up to 7 lakh this year.
If the remittance that comes through illegal channels is counted, the amount of total remittance will go up to US$ 18 billion, he said. Voicing frustration, Dr Nurul said Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) has never conducted any study on job market demand. He said though Bangladesh export manpower to 161 countries now, the number of Bangladeshi workers is very low in many countries.
Debate for Democracy chairman Hasan Ahmed Kiron in his keynote paper said though the migration sector is the biggest source of foreign currency, the allocation for the sector is only 0.16 percent of the national budget. As per BGMEA statistics, the export earning of the readymade garment sector was US$ 25 billion in 2015. But the net earning was only US$ 13 billion (if costs of cotton and other raw materials are excluded), whereas the Bangladesh expatriates sent more that US$ 15 billion, he said.
Noting that the migration sector is neglected in the budget, Kiron said the budgetary allocation for the Expatriates’ Welfare and Oversees Employment Ministry is Tk 560 crore in the 2016-17 fiscal, which is only 0.16 percent of the national budget. He mentioned the migration sector is now facing a number of challenges, including failure to create new labor markets, lack of skilled workers and designing modern training programs. Debate for Democracy Director Dr SM Moreshed delivered the welcome speech.