July 24, 2024, 2:51 am

2nd wave of Corona pandemic: Foreign labour market facing new threat

  • Update Time : Monday, April 12, 2021
  • 397 Time View

Staff Correspondent:

Bangladesh’s foreign labour market is going to face a long-term crisis due to hit by second wave of corona pandemic.

With the appearance of corona’s second phase, the concerned people are apprehending to face again a new ban on sending workers abroad.

Meanwhile, the UK government has imposed ban on travelling to four countries including Bangladesh to protect the country from corona’s massive outbreak. The country has taken this measure to prevent the spread of the new variant corona. For now, they have put these four countries on the red list. The ban is expected to have a negative impact on other labour markets in Bangladesh.

Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, former Secretary General of BAIRA, an association of manpower exporters said, “The sector, which has the second highest contribution to Bangladesh’s economy, is facing many challenges. About 50,000 visas are currently being processed in Saudi Arabia and about 40,000 in the United Arab Emirates. There are also several visas being processed in other countries. Of these, most of the expenses for visa and air fare have been met. But, we are extremely worried because of the deteriorating situation in corona. If flights to these countries are stopped due to corona, we and the expatriate workers will face huge losses. Crores of Taka have already been invested for the visa purpose.”

“Many countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand have been able to control the corona. We too can succeed in this by taking their steps to prevent corona,” he added.

According to manpower exporters, the new variant of corona has plunged the overseas labour market into a long-term crisis amid strong diplomatic efforts to reopen other labour markets including Malaysia, which have been closed for the past year due to the corona situation. Centering the corona epidemic, at least 12 lakh Bangladeshis have dropped out of the foreign labour market in the last one year of which at least 80 percent have no alternative source of income.

Experts seem that, it is a thunder signal for the country’s economy. They said that, at the beginning of the corona crisis, about 2 lakh expatriate workers were stranded on holiday. With all kinds of preparations, at least 1 lakh could not go to the end. More than 2 lakh workers have been forced to return to the country on special flights. Around 5 lakh people are now leading days and nights in distress condition due to closure of labour market.

BRAC’s immigration department said, the number of people affected by the corona will be even higher, if families of expatriates are taken into account. There is no alternative source of income for 87 percent of returning workers. If this trend continues, it will have an adverse effect on the country’s economy. The UN agency IOM, which works with migrant workers said, around 70 percent of returning workers are now in crisis.

According to the survey of Ramru, a non-governmental organization working with migrants, remittances inflow for 61 percent of families has stopped as their inmates have lost their job abroad due to clutch of corona. Meanwhile, the government has set up a loan fund of Tk 700 crore for the employment of workers returning from abroad, but most of the workers are being deprived of loan facilities due to various corruption and manipulation. However, the World Bank (WB) has come forward in this regard. The WB will provide a loan of $200 million to help foreign workers and young entrepreneurs in low-income cities affected by the corona epidemic, which is equivalent to about Tk 1,700 crore in Bangladeshi currency. The Dhaka office of the WB said that, an agreement will be signed between the two parties soon.

Syed Omar Ahmed, senior economist at the WB and team leader of the project said, “The project would improve and consolidate information management to provide social security services to returning and migrant workers. However, priority will be given to those, who have suffered the most due to Covid-19.”

Mercy Tembon, Country Director of the World Bank said, “The informal and manpower export sector has played a significant role in alleviating poverty in Bangladesh in the last few years. These two sectors have been severely affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.”

Shamsul Alam, Director General of BMET said, “Sending skilled manpower abroad is now the biggest challenge for the government during the corona pandemic. In this circumstance, the government is also making a concerted effort to address this challenge.



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