Almost no headway has been made in the registration programme launched for enlisting the Bangladeshi diaspora due to lack of proper initiatives by the embassy offices in job destination countries, sources said.
The Wage Earners’ Welfare Board (WEWB) launched the enlistment programme for the Bangladeshi diaspora or long-term expatriate Bangladeshis on June 09 in 2017 aiming to bring them under the government database.
So far the board has started the programme at 22 labour wings in 19 countries across the globe.
After getting immigration clearance from Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), Bangladeshi expatriates can get listed on the databank with paying an immigration clearance fee of Tk 3,500 each.
Only 32,497 expatriates gained diaspora membership. Of them, 25,337 were in Saudi Arabia, followed by 4,309 in Italy and 1,599 in Greece.
However, the number of registered expatriate Bangladeshis in some countries like Malaysia, Lebanon, Singapore, Qatar, Oman and the UAE is much lower.
Only seven Bangladeshis in Malaysia received registration in last two years while one in Singapore, 11 in Oman and 30 in Qatar, according to the WEWB data.
The rest of the registered expatriates were from the Maldives, Australia, Egypt, Geneva, Kuwait, Bahrain, Libya, Spain, Japan and Mauritius.
Sector insiders said about 3.0 million Bangladeshi expatriates now staying abroad did not receive immigration clearance from BMET. So, their records were not put on the databank.
As the expatriates were not enlisted on the BMET database, they don’t get services provided by WEWB.
The board maintains a welfare fund for expatriate Bangladeshi workers. It was established with the contributions of migrant workers. They pay it while getting immigration clearance.
The families of dead migrant workers get Tk 300,000 each as financial support and ailing workers get Tk 100,000 for treatment purposes from WEWB.
The government recently introduced insurance coverage for outbound Bangladeshi workers. The workers who receive immigration clearance ae entitled to enjoy insurance benefits with a minimum premium.
The benefits of compulsory package will be Tk 200,000 with a premium of Tk 990 and optional policy benefit will be Tk 500,000 with a premium of Tk 2475. The premium will be paid as single instalment for entire two years.
But the workers will bear only Tk 490 and Tk 1,975 as premium respectively. The WEWB that receives Tk 3,500 as contribution from each outbound worker to create its welfare fund will subsidise premiums by Tk 500.
The board has also launched stipend programme for the meritorious children of migrants. In addition, it has various plans including setting up of diagnostic centre.
Preferring anonymity, an official said Bangladeshi expatriates want to be registered with the government database, but the Bangladesh embassies or high commissions are reluctant to provide services to them.
The programme, in fact, failed to bring the expatriates under the registration programme in most of the countries except Saudi Arabia and some European countries, he claimed.
“If the programme runs properly, most of the expatriates will come under the database.”
Not only the expatriates but also the board would benefit from the enlistment programme, the official said.
Missions also don’t carry out publicity campaigns among the expatriates about the benefits of registration, he added.
When contacted, an official at WEWB said it is not a very difficult task. “We have imparted training to the officials concerned in mission offices about how to complete the procedure of registration.”
He also said they continue the process so that expatriates can be able to be registered anytime. “Due to lack of awareness, the number of registration is still lower.”
More than 12 million Bangladeshis had gone abroad since 1976. Most of them are staying in the Middle Eastern countries.