Bangladesh warns about high recruitment costs lead migrants to debt bondage
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A Bangladesh delegation, attending United Nations’ High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (HLPF) in New York, on Thursday warned that high migration costs lead the migrant workers to the forced labour and debt bondage in the destination countries.

Mahjabeen Khaled, member of the Bangladesh Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development, told a UN session Thursday that migration cost remains steadily high because of involvement of ‘manpower brokers’ at different stages of migration process and visa trading.

At a discussion on SDG 10, which stresses reduction of inequality within and among countries, she said that Bangladesh government decided to reduce the cost of recruitment as proportion of annual income of migrant workers though the scenario practically did not change much.  

‘High recruitment cost not only bars large number of temporary workers from migrating, but also leads them to forced labor and debt bondage in destination countries causing physical and psychological trauma,’ she said.

Mahjabeen, also lawmaker of the 10th parliament, focused on progressive and rights-based approaches to enhance social protection, and enabling fiscal policies, which are the keys to fulfill this goal.

Referring to indicator 10.7.1 of the SDG, she said that the costs related to migration should not be so high as it could adversely affect welfare of the migrant workers and their families.

About the indicator of 10.7.2, on implementing a well-managed migration policy, she said that Bangladesh government approved its Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Policy in January 2016 to promote good governance in migration.

‘A draft Action Plan has been prepared for its implementation,’ she said, adding that Bangladesh government finished drafting of a migration governance framework to address the key migration governance issues.

With reference to Indicator 10.c of remittance transfer cost, Mahjabeen, also daughter of sector commander Khaled Mosharraf, Bir Uttom, said ‘We are hopeful that Bangladesh will be able to reduce the cost of remittances below 3 per cent before 2030.’

She said that Bangladesh declared 2 per cent incentive for sending remittances using formal banking channels. ‘Furthermore, the government will be providing insurance coverage free of cost to all migrant workers.’

The delegation of the Bangladesh Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development led by its chairman Israfil Alam MP, has been taking part in all sessions of the HLPF started on July 9.

They recalled that Bangladesh was providing shelter to over one million forcibly displaced Rohingyas. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh recognized the human face of these unfortunate people and now sought continued support of UN to ensure their safe and dignified return, according to a message received on Friday.

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