Bangladesh does not have sufficient allocations for a sustainable, safe and ethical migration of remittance earners to destination countries, said policymakers, experts and civil society members at a virtual dialogue on Saturday.
"Preparing skilled workers, identification of labour market, sending workers with a minimum migration costs, protection of workers in the destination countries and proper utilisation of returnee migrants' experience are the steps included in the whole migration cycle. But, we do not have sufficient investment to ensure a sustainable migration process," observed Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment.
Bangladeshi migrant workers, especially women, have been facing various sorts of harassment and oppression in their workplaces, but the country's foreign missions cannot give them the required legal protection and assistance because of budget constraints, he continued.
Anisul further said that open discussions are needed to identify areas where the welfare fund for migrants operated by the Wage Earners' Welfare Board should be spent.
The fund has been created with the contributions of migrants and the government has to spend on welfare activities for them, he added.
The dialogue entitled "Post-Budget National Consultation for the FY22 on Migrants' Welfare" was organised by the Parliamentarians' Caucus on Migration and Development, Bangladesh Civil Society for Migrants (BCSM) and WARBE Development Foundation.
Speaking at the event, Fakhrul Imam MP pointed out that 17-18 ministries are involved with providing services to migrants, but there is a coordination gap among them.
"Besides the expatriate welfare ministry, others concerned also have budgetary allocations to spend for migrants' welfare. But we don't have any data or assessment regarding the issue," he added.
Dr CR Abrar, chair of the BCSM, said prices of air tickets are almost 60% higher amid the pandemic when compared to pre-pandemic time, which has raised the migration cost. "But we don't know what the civil aviation authorities are doing. They should bind airlines including foreign and local carriers to decrease the airfare and formulate labour fare."
He called on the government to increase allocation for the migration sector in the next budget.
Shirin Lira, gender and social inclusion adviser at Prokas, British Council, emphasised monitoring over budget implementation.
Dr Md Nurul Islam, former director of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, focused on target-specific (destinations) training for aspiring migrants.
Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary MP, chairperson of the Bangladesh Parliamentarians' Caucus on Migration and Development chaired the event while Mahjabeen Khaled, secretary-general of the Caucus was the moderator. Economist Md Mazadul Hoque was the keynote presenter.
Among others, members of the parliamentary caucus spoke at the event – supported by Prokas, British Council and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.