Bangladesh's diplomacy maintains 50-year-old practices and is still not oriented to migrant workers, Prime Minister's Foreign Affairs Adviser Dr Gawher Rizvi said at a dialogue yesterday.
He said the migrant workers' contribution to the nation was very high, but the country could give them little in return.
"We are giving tax holiday, sometimes land and other incentives to exporters…but can't we give incentives to the migrants and send them abroad at zero cost? Can't we send pay their air fare?"
There are an estimated 75 lakh Bangladeshis working abroad, who send home over $12 billion annually, but fraudulence with migrant workers and their rights violation are a common story. Many allege that Bangladesh missions abroad are not helpful to the migrants.
Developing the skills of overseas jobseekers and raising awareness on rights are crucial, the adviser said, adding that the government has a capacity to train yearly more than one lakh jobseekers.
Reazul Islam, vice-president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, said Bangladesh could gain much more from the overseas employment sector if there existed strong coordination between the ministries of expatriates' welfare and foreign affairs.
The dialogue, "Overseas Employment: State of Migrant Workers Abroad", was organised by
Media Initiative for Public Policy (MIPP) and Bangladesh Ovibashi Mohila Sramik Association (Bomsa) jointly with support from the European Union and Dan Church Aid at a city hotel.
Sumayia Islam, director of Bomsa; Hazrat Ali, acting secretary to the expatriates' welfare ministry; Monowara Sultana, project coordinator of DanChurchAid, and journalists Saiful Huda, Pranab Saha and Obaidul Kabir Mollah, among others, also spoke at the programme.