Overseas employment has come down sharply in recent times as many Bangladeshi workers are losing jobs abroad because of the global economic meltdown, which is unlikely to create pressure on the country’s domestic employment.
This apprehension has increased more following Wednesday’s ILO report that global unemployment in 2009 could increase over that of 2007 by a range of 18 million to 30 million workers, and more than 50 million if the recession continues to deteriorate.
A total of 44,378 Bangladeshis got jobs abroad last December and 46,267 till January 27 while 75,516 workers joined overseas jobs monthly on an average in 11 months of 2008, according to the statistics of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET).
This declining rate of overseas employment is unlikely to dip further in the coming months as Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which were the main destinations of Bangladeshi workers in last two years, have already reduced the number of hiring Bangladeshi workers.
Malaysia hired only 6,701 workers last December and 5,694 till January 27, indicating decrease in recruitment. The country hired 11,369 Bangladeshi workers monthly on an average in the first 11 months last year.
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told the parliament last October that his government was taking steps to reduce the number of foreign workers by 400,000 in a year until 2010.
On the other hand, the UAE, which hired about 3.95 lakh workers out of 8.32 lakh from Bangladesh in 2008, has reduced issuing work visas due to the global economic meltdown.
The UAE hired 23,978 Bangladeshi workers last December while 25,463 till January 27, although it hired around 36,000 workers on an average each month until November 2008.
There are also some reports that reveal that many workers are losing jobs in the UAE.
Bangladesh’s traditional and major labour market Saudi Arabia has also significantly reduced issuing work visas to Bangladeshis since February last year. In December last year, Saudi Arabia recruited only 1,531 Bangladeshi workers and 981 till January 27 this year.
Kuwait, on the other hand, stopped hiring Bangladeshi workers in late 2006 following an allegation of malpractice in hiring the workers.
Besides, Bangladeshi workers are losing jobs in Singapore, which is facing serious global financial meltdown, mainly in the shipping business.
Sultana Adnan, welfare coordinator of Singapore Bangladesh Samiti in Singapore, told The Daily Star over phone that around 10,000 Bangladeshi workers who lost jobs were provided with some food and shelters by some charities in that country. Some workers have already returned home after losing their jobs.
“Bangladesh is unlikely to face a negative impact in overseas employment if the current situation continues. This will certainly put a pressure on the domestic employment,” said Abdul Hye Mondal, senior research fellow at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
An official at the expatriates’ welfare ministry said: “We have still some hopes as Libya, Jordan, Qatar and Syria have a good demand of workers and we must take this opportunity.”
The government should also make high-level dialogue with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to fully open their markets for Bangladeshi workers, he added.
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