Friday, July 3, 2020 | ePaper

Massive rehabilitation programme needed to help expatriate returnees

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THOUSANDS of migrant workers living abroad are living in dire situation as they are receiving little help or no help from Bangladesh government to fight their financial hardship during for survival away from the country. Out of over one crore workers abroad several lakhs may have already lost jobs while others are living in uncertainty in host countries in serious economic downturn. Meanwhile hundreds of migrant workers are returning while thousands may return soon mainly from the Gulf countries. By all indications we are going to face a severe situation as the report said that need to be tacked by all means.  
We must say our expatriate workers make the highest contribution to the national economy which is only second to export earnings. They send money to families for survival and keep the rural economy vibrant. It appears that the government is not in a virtual position to meaningfully take up any rehabilitation programme for returnees and those staying abroad. Workers rights groups have already voiced concerns but we must say this is a bigger concern for that the entire nation. Mere propaganda of the government will not work. We may have little opportunity to extend help to those staying overseas. Our missions abroad are ineffective and corrupt officials are of no help to extend financial help, because they may eat up much of it.
What we can do this moment is to launch massive rehabilitation programme training returnees into new skills and providing interest free capital to open new business to earn livelihood for them and families. Its distribution must be on easier term and transparent. Moreover we believe we can groom most returnees as replacement to foreign workers from regional countries now working in our factories and service windows. They are taking away over US$ 5.0 bn annually and we can slowly recover some of these work places by our returnees.  
The remittance of our workers abroad was a strong pillar of our economy despite unprecedented looting and plundering by the government supporters. These people worked under conditions of inhuman hardship and sent the remittances. A large chunk of their hard earned money was spent on expensive but unnecessary foreign tours of the people in power. Because of the pandemic there will be limited demand for migrant workers in all the countries. We have to redesign our manpower export to help rehabilitate the returnees.

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