Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Job opportunity shrinking in KSA, govt must look for new labour markets

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NEWS media reported that at least 106 Bangladeshi workers returned home empty-handed from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday following detention and deportation. Over the last week, KSA deported 510 workers of Bangladesh. The Saudi labour market is shrinking fast for Bangladeshis as locals are taking up foreign workers' jobs amid the Kingdom's strong policy against undocumented migrants. Fewer Bangladeshis are now migrating to the Middle Eastern country while more and more are returning home. We don't know why the government still didn't accelerate diplomatic efforts to fix the problem and search for new labour markets.
According to the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), 187,224 Bangladeshi workers went to KSA from January to September this year with a monthly average of Tk 20,802. The number was 551,308 last year with a monthly average of around Tk 46,000. Officials at the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh said scores of Bangladeshis are returning from Saudi Arabia because job opportunities are drying up there.
Some of the returnees claimed that they were working in the Kingdom legally, but were detained by police, kept at deportation centres and then deported. It is rare that someone having 'iqama' (residential permit) would be deported from Saudi Arabia. In some cases, migrants are hired for a company, but they are employed at another company. This is illegal. But such practices have been in place for many years and the law enforcers were lenient. Now, the Saudi authorities are enforcing the law very strictly.
Almost 60 per cent of the mobile phone shops in Riyadh were run by Bangladeshis, and around 80,000 Bangladeshis were involved in the business. But in September last year, the Saudi authorities issued orders that foreigners would not be allowed to do such business. Saudi Arabia is home to some two million Bangladeshis, who sent home Tk 110,247 crore last year.
All-out diplomatic efforts can solve the rising problem to some extent but looking out for new job markets is a need of the time.  Side by side, generating enough employment opportunities in the country along with creating economic opportunities can reduce dependency on labour migration.

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