29 January 2015, The Financial Express
It is a welcome piece of news that the Saudi Arabia has decided to reopen its labour market for local jobseekers after a seven-year ban on manpower recruitment from Bangladesh.
The country’s overall manpower export started declining significantly when the Saudi authorities brought allegations of anomalies in the recruitment process and subsequently slapped a ban on hiring of workers from Bangladesh in 2008.
Before the ban, around 0.1 million Bangladeshis used to migrate to Saudi Arabia every year. However, only a few Bangladeshis could obtain labour visas for cleaning jobs in the Kingdom during the period of ban.
The withdrawal means the Bangladeshis will now be able to get visas for all sectors, including construction and services. A Saudi team is expected to visit Bangladesh for orientation programmes for the jobseekers soon.
Some analysts have termed it as a ‘vital diplomatic success’ for Bangladesh. The Saudi labour minister underscored the need for a transparent mechanism of the recruitment process with online verification by all parties involved.
Bangladesh’s manpower ministry has a database which has registered more than 2.2 million foreign job seekers. Those workers have undergone the necessary training for their respective profession.
According to reports, a good number of the Bangladeshi workers in the labour-receiving countries are engaged in some unlawful activities to earn the money they spent for visa. Once visas are issued by the employers there, those have been changing hands several times starting from sponsors/employers to the middlemen at various tiers until those reach Bangladesh.
Afterwards, the main buyers of visas/work-permits reportedly sell those to other recruiting agencies which employ middlemen across the countries to collect job-seekers. Since such visas change hands several times in both Bangladesh and abroad, the cost goes up significantly.