Bangladesh hopes to finalise an agreement with Malaysia over a new policy for recruiting Bangladeshi workers in August, State Minister for Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed said.
The Malaysian government suspended its previous recruitment system and announced a plan to stop hiring Bangladeshi workers under a new scheme last year.
Quoting the state minister, Malaysian national news agency Bernama reports that Dhaka and Putrajaya are working closely to resolve the issue soon.
“I met with Malaysia’s Human Resources Ministry and the Home Ministry. The old system is not working; so for the new system, we are getting everybody involved and working on it. I think in August, some solution might come out,” said Imran, who is in Kuala Lumpur on a three-day working visit.
Malaysia offers a big market for Bangladesh to export manpower. More than 500,000 Bangladeshi nationals work in Malaysia in different sectors, according to government data. But experts believe the actual number is higher.
In 2016, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in which Malaysia agreed to recruit workers from Bangladesh for five different sectors under the ‘government-to-government plus’ system.
Ten Bangladeshi recruitment agencies were permitted to send workers to Malaysia under the five year contract.
Since 2016, about 200,000 Bangladeshi workers went to Malaysia under this system compared to about 12,000 under the G2G between 2012 and 2016.
But the new Malaysian government said the whole process was “a total mess” and it resulted in the migrant workers paying exorbitant amounts of money to middlemen in both Bangladesh and Malaysia.
Malaysia decided to introduce a new recruitment system in August 2018 to provide equal opportunity to all countries to send manpower. All licensed agents will be able to send workers to Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed had said.
Imran said the new recruitment system will be more transparent. It will ensure the selection of skilled manpower and keep the recruitment cost affordable, he added.
“Our government will not allow the cost of migration to go up. This is also the main reason why the present (Malaysian) government stop the (previous) system.”
It was alleged that instead of RM 2,000 maximum, the workers paid RM20,000 (around Tk 4 lakh) each to their Bangladeshi agents, who then paid half of the sum to the syndicate to have work permit approvals and flight tickets to Malaysia.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, a total 99,787 Bangladeshi workers have gone to Malaysia through 10 recruiting agencies after the G2G plus system was introduced.
The Malaysian government stopped issuing visas to Bangladeshi workers from September last year after the G2G Plus system was cancelled.
In 2018, a total of 175,927 workers went to Malaysia.