A meeting between Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur ended Tuesday without a decision on the reopening of the Malaysian labour market for Bangladeshi citizens.
The virtual meeting was attended by high-officials of the two countries. An official, who attended the meeting, told The Business Standard that the two countries will meet again on Wednesday on the same topic.
Wishing anonymity, the official said they talked about how many Bangladeshi recruiting agencies would be allowed to send manpower to Malaysia. "However, as we did not agree upon the labour market reopening during the four-hour long meeting, we will talk again Wednesday," added the official.
Malaysia, home to around eight lakh Bangladeshis, suspended labour recruitment from Bangladesh in September 2018 following allegations of a market monopoly by some Bangladeshi recruiting agents and the high cost of migration.
Since then, a series of meetings have taken place between the two countries on labour market reopening, but to no avail.
While Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur continue talks this time, some Bangladeshi manpower exporters have complained about a conspiracy to award 25 recruiting agencies with manpower exports to Malaysia.
The exporters demanded equal opportunities for all recruiting agencies in all labour markets. They have been staging demonstrations in Dhaka for the last couple of days to press home their demands.
According to the G2G Plus agreement signed by Bangladesh and Malaysia in 2016, Bangladesh was to send 15 lakh workers in three years to Malaysia. The agreement allowed private firms to send workers to Malaysia through government arrangement.
Then the maximum immigration cost was set at Tk37,000 per person and the recruitment process was brought online. Ten recruiters replaced the existing 1,200 recruiting agencies.
Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, immediate past secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), said, "It was one of the worst conspiracies in the manpower export sector."
"The syndicate took control of the entire export of manpower through its political power, illegal transactions and propaganda – such as by saying that a small handful of recruiters can ensure the highest facilities for the workers, reduce migration costs and send more workers in the shortest possible time," he claimed.
He said migration costs per person rose to Tk4 lakh in 2017-18 while they were Tk1.5 lakh in 2009. "But it was supposed to be at Tk37,000 per person. The cost edged up due to the syndicate of ten recruiters," added Noman.
The meeting was attended by: Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad, Secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, Manpower, Employment and Training Bureau Director General Shamsul Alam, Overseas Employment and Services Limited Director Md Saiful Hasan Badal, and senior officials of the ministry.