The government has recently fixed country wise rates for sending workers to 15 countries by the recruiting agencies amid non enforcement of previous rates.
If followed, the recruiting agencies would no more be able to charge fees from outgoing workers arbitrarily as they now do, expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry officials told New Age.
They said that the maximum migration cost had been fixed for Singapore, Malaysia, Libya, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Russia, Maldives, Brunei Darussalam and Lebanon.
The new rates were fixed in the backdrop of the government’s repeated failure to enforce the rates set earlier.
For Singapore, they said, the migration cost had been set at Tk 2,62,270.
Migration rights campaigners called the new rates as unrealistic as a Singapore-bound worker now pays up to Tk 8.5 lakh as the cost of migration.
The migration cost of Tk 160,000 has been set for Malaysia, Tk 1,45,780 for Libya, Tk 97,780 for Bahrain, Tk 1,07,780 for UAE, Tk 1,06,780 for Kuwait, Tk 1,00,780 for Oman, Tk 1,29, 540 for Iraq, Tk 1,00,780 for Qatar, Tk 1,02,780 for Jordan, Tk 1,20, 080 for Egypt, Tk 1,66,640 for Russia, Tk 1,15,780 for Maldives, Tk 1,20,780 for Brunei and Tk 1,17,780 for Lebanon.
Last year, the maximum migration cost for Saudi Arabia was fixed at Tk 165,000 but in reality recruiters charge five times the rate set officially.
Until now no action had been taken against any recruiting agency for charging migration fee beyond the officially fixed rate, EWOE ministry deputy secretary for monitoring and enforcement Md Akhteruzzaman said replying to a question.
Migrants rights body WARBE development foundation’s secretary general Faruque Ahmed said that the government should develop a mechanism to make recruiting agencies compliant.
Dhaka University professor and founding chair of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) Tasnseem Siddiqui told New Age that the newly set migration costs would provide no benefits to the migrant workers as the new rates would be used as the pretexts by the recruiters for charging higher fees.
She said migration costs could be slashed only by stopping visa trading, ending corruption in the BMET and bringing middlemen under the legal coverage.
WARBE development foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque called the newly fixed rates as ‘unrealistic.’
The new rates would be exploited to violate workers’ rights, he said.
‘We strongly demand migration at zero cost just as it is done in Nepal,’ he said.
WITNESS Bangladesh founding chairperson Pervez Siddiqui, a prize winning film maker on migration, said there was no justification for the government to fix a new rate when it could not enforce the previous rates on recruiters in last 10 years.
He said migrant workers become victims of cheating twice, first when they were forced to pay much in excess over the officially set rates and again when they were paid wages or compensations much lower than what was committed.