Dhaka: Private recruitment agencies are allegedly hindering moves to reopen Malaysian labour market for Bangladeshi nationals, said a senior official at the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET). The official, on conditions of anonymity, added that an unscrupulous group close to private recruiting agencies might persuade the Malaysian side not to reopen the labour market for Bangladeshi nationals, saying that the government of Bangladesh is not capable of recruiting workers there.
Expatriates’ welfare secretary Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan told The Independent that a section of unscrupulous private recruitment agencies might play against reopening the Malaysian labour market. However, the Malaysian government is firm in its intention to recruit workers from Bangladesh, through legal channels and in a transparent manner, he added.
The expatriates’ welfare secretary mentioned that the government of Malaysia has already taken punitive steps against unscrupulous senior officials in Malaysia.
“We are against the move that the government would recruit workers in Malaysia,” said Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) president Abul Basher while talking to The Independent on Thursday.
If the government wants to be involved in business, then it should return the Tk. 15 lakh security deposit taken from each of the 1,100 recruiting agencies, he said.
When asked about the position of BAIRA, in reopening the labour market, Basher said, “It is not right to blame us as we want the market to reopen.”
Following huge anomalies in recruitment process by the private recruiting agencies and subsequent closure of Malaysian labour market for Bangladeshi workers, the government initiated a move to recruit workers with low migration fee through government to government level.
As part of the move, in December 2010, a high level delegation from Bangladesh visited Malaysia. During the visit, the Malaysian government showed keen interest to recruit workers through the government.
Following the visit, a Malaysian delegation came to Bangladesh in January 2011 and is supposed to place a report to the Cabinet sub-committee on reopening Malaysian labour market for Bangladeshi nationals.
After scanning the recruitment process in Dhaka, the Malaysian delegation assured that, at the end of January, it would inform the government of Bangladesh about the reopening of the Malaysian labour market.
Sources said the delegation is yet to place the report to the Cabinet sub committee.
The report may be placed to the Cabinet sub committee on February 21, said an official of BMET.
During the talks in Dhaka, the Malaysian delegation said that private recruitment agencies charge about Tk. 2.5 lakh to send a worker to Malaysia and in no way they would recruit workers through private recruitment agencies, said an official who attended the talks.
If Malaysia reopens labour markets for Bangladeshi nationals, the migration cost would not be more than Tk. 40,000, said an official at the expatriates’ welfare ministry.
Currently one-way airfare stands at Tk. 25,000, while passport charges stand at Tk. 3000, clearance comes at Tk. 400 and medical check-up costs another Tk. 1,000, sources said.
In 2009, Malaysia stopped hiring people from Bangladesh. On March 10, 2009, Malaysia cancelled 55,000 visas of Bangladeshi workers.
According to BMET, the government fixed Tk. 84,000 as expenses to send a worker to Malaysia. But private recruitment agencies charged more than Tk. 200,000 to send workers to Malaysia, alleged many migrant workers.
Besides, private recruitment agencies indulged in massive irregularities, while sending workers to Malaysia. In some cases, they send 100 workers, even if Malaysia required only 50, officials said.
An official added that Malaysia had shut its doors on Bangladeshi nationals, because of a few government officials and recruitment agencies, who did not care to follow the regulations. He said some unscrupulous employers in Malaysia were also to be blamed.
According to BMET, about 1,000 Bangladeshi workers have gone to Malaysia in 2010. In 2009, Bangladesh sent 12,402 workers to Malaysia and 131,762 Bangladeshi nationals went to that country in 2008. The number was 273,201 in 2007.
According to expatriates’ welfare ministry officials, about five lakh Bangladeshi workers are currently working in Malaysia. Of them, three lakh are staying illegally.