The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) has sought Tk2,000 crore in financial assistance from the government to cover business losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 3, Baira President Benjir Ahmed said this amount of financial support is necessary to keep the manpower recruiting sector functional amid the global outbreak of Covid-19.
Aound 70,000 workers go to different countries every month through recruiting agencies, the letter said.
"But the labour market of Bangladesh has completely shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. More than 1 lakh visas of aspirant migrant workers from different recruiting agencies got stuck at different stages," the letter read.
"Some of them had completed all the necessary procedures while some received visas and some others had confirmed tickets. But they couldn't go abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic," said Baira Secretary General Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury Noman.
He said about 20,000 female workers were supposed to go abroad in the past 2-3 months. "We had spent a good chunk to make their passports and pay for other costs like medical passes, medical clearance, police clearance and brokers' payment. We would get the money from the employers abroad. But, we won't get this money from the employers under the current situation."
Baira President Benjir Ahmed said in the letter that the owners of recruiting agencies are facing huge financial losses due to Covid-19.
"It is not possible for 1,600 recruiting agencies to pay salaries of around 16,000 employees, office rents and other expenditures," reads the letter.
The Baira secretary general told The Business Standard that each recruiting agency employs 10 people on an average.
"The minimum wage for each staff is Tk15,000. So, an amount of Tk24 crore is required to pay their salaries for one month. Under the present circumstances, it is not possible for the recruiting agencies to pay such a big amount," he maintained.
Noman also said the aspirant migrant workers who had already paid money will want to get back their money but there is no way to return it.
He said the government should announce a stimulus package for recruiting agencies like the ones announced for other sectors to overcome the possible Covid-19 impact.