Vol. 4 Num 344 Wed. May 19, 2004  

Italy to take 1,500 workers from Bangladesh this year
Illegal workers to be sent back, says Italian envoy

Italy plans to frame a manpower policy in consultation with Bangladesh to regularise the flow of workforce as about 1,500 more Bangladeshi workers are expected to be employed in the European country this year.

"We're trying to help Bangladesh prepare its workforce before they go to Italy and find some kind of solution to the illegal stay of Bangladeshis in Italy," Italian ambassador to Bangladesh said.

In an interview with the news agency, Ambassador Pietro Ballero hoped that this year around 1,500 Bangladeshi workers would be sent to Italy and, maybe, 3,000 more would join their relatives working there.

"We need Bangladeshi people. Italy is the fifth-largest industrialist country of the world. We like to have skilled and semi-skilled workers for our industries," he said.

The envoy spoke about an excellent bilateral relationship between Dhaka and Rome, trade and investment, deportation of illegal workers as well as the outcome of recent BDF meeting and impediments to foreign investment in Bangladesh.

Ambassador Ballero said the Italian government would send back some 100 to 150 illegal Bangladeshi workers this year as against 50-55 of last year to make it a point that the workers from here will have to go to Italy through legal way.

"We are not sending back all illegal people --only a few to tell other Bangladeshis to go to Italy legally," he said, adding that Italian government would try to finance the workers who would be sent back to find jobs in Bangladesh.

The ambassador could not say the exact number of the illegal workers, but said it could run into thousands.

About 30,000 to 35,000 Bangladeshis are legally living in Italy.

Ambassador Ballero said Italy tries to increase direct aid to Bangladesh, if possible, and provided around 20-25 million euro for water treatment plant, power station in Chittagong and a leather industry in Dhaka.

About bilateral trade, he said from July to March of the current fiscal year, Bangladesh's exports stood around US$ 219.88 million, with RMG accounting for US$ 84.78 million and Knitwear US$ 90.36 million.

Ballero pointed out unrest, corruption and law-and-order situation as obstacles to foreign investment. "We could increase our investment in Bangladesh. But problems for businessmen are unstable situation here."

He expressed the hope that the situation would improve.