Demand for skilled workforces has been on the rise worldwide and Bangladesh should capitalise on it as these jobs offer higher pays.
Keeping it at the forefront, we should chalk out long-, medium- and short-term programmes to develop human resources with the necessary training to cater to the different needs of overseas job markets. Thus, we will be able to rake in more remittances.
To boost remittance inflows in a one-year term, we need to tailor vocational training with overseas markets in mind.
We can impart training to girls with educational qualifications up to HSC, targeting job markets that require women workers alongside domestic help.
For example, there is a demand for caregiver jobs abroad. Their main duties include administering medications, helping patients complete personal care tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, or grooming, and following the patients' prescribed healthcare plan. It will take six months to one year to prepare a woman with such skills.
In different countries, there is a need for draftsmen who as assistants to engineers make detailed technical drawings or plans for machinery, buildings, electronics, infrastructure, etc. Europe, the United States, and Australia recruit hairdressers.
Australia has a quota for appointing hairstylists. Only trained hairdressers can apply for such jobs. It takes up to one year to complete a course on hairdressing.
But we do not see initiatives for training in those fields in Bangladesh.
We should always keep a track of which countries are hiring for which positions. For example, they recruit hairdressers in one year and housekeepers in another. We have to prepare our workforce accordingly.
Now, the migration of skilled workers, including nurses, is happening on a limited scale - the number is only 100-200. We need to target at least 50,000 for such migration. Then, the government will not have to look back. We need to arrange a special training with a target to train up a big number of people in the first place.
When it comes to medium-term measures, the government has to stop fraud migration, which has increased significantly. For this, there comes a need for holding the middlemen accountable for defrauding migrants of huge amounts of money with false promises.
As an immediate step to boost remittance, we must raise the ceiling on investment in bonds by expatriates.
The government launched the Wage-Earner Development Bond, US Dollar Premium Bond, and US Dollar Investment Bonds that provided a scope of secured investment for non-resident Bangladeshis, but in 2020 the government fixed the investment limit in these bonds at Tk1 crore.
This policy is one of the reasons why our remittances have decreased.
The government must revise the policy and allow NRBs to invest up to Tk10 crore or even more. Some NRB investors can also invest Tk20 crore. If we want to increase remittance inflows, we must raise the investment limit for NRBs immediately.
Besides, the government needs to review the various taxes and VAT imposed on the bonds and make them investment-friendly.
Moreover, cash incentives on remittance through banking channels can be raised to 5% from 2.5%. This can be done only for three months amid the current crisis. If the government provides such a facility, no one will transact money through hundi.
Tasneem Siddiqui, founding chair of RMMRU