The Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit has presented a model to regularise the roles of middlemen in the recruitment process
- Around 90% of the payment of migration costs is transacted through middlemen
- 19% of aspiring migrants failed to migrate; each lost 1.95 lakh on average
- 32% migrants faced hardship and fraud in destination countries
- Making the middlemen abroad accountable is a big challenge
- Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment recently formed a committee to explore options for regularising the roles of middlemen
The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment is working to develop an inclusive system to ensure the accountability of middlemen working in the overseas recruitment process.
Recently, the ministry formed a committee to explore options to regularise the roles of middlemen in international labour recruitment, said a ministry official.
At an e-symposium on "Streamlining Labour Recruitment through the Regularisation of Middlemen," the stakeholders suggested various ways of making the middlemen accountable.
The virtual event was organised by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) on Sunday.
Referring to research conducted by RMMRU in 2017, the organisation's Founding Chair Dr Tasneem Siddiqui said, "Around 90% of the payment of migration costs are transacted through middlemen. But middlemen were not included in the Migration Act 2013, even though they provide 17 types of services."
"As a result, they are involved in an informal recruitment process. Such informality creates conditions for some middlemen and recruiting agencies to deceive and cheat migrants," she added.
Additionally, the shrink in demand for workers during the Covid-19 crisis is likely to lead to fierce competition for scarce overseas employment opportunities.
The RMMRU thinks that the situation may create fresh ground for unscrupulous agents and middlemen to entice and cheat workers.
It may also lead to an increase in the trafficking of both men and women.
At the symposium, RMMRU presented a model to regularise the role of middlemen in the recruitment process.
Dr Ahmed Munirus Saleheen, secretary of the expatriate welfare and overseas employment ministry, said, "The existing law permits each recruiting agent to appoint sub-agents according to their need at home and abroad. So, we can regularise the middlemen (sub-agents) under the umbrella of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) by using the provision."
"We can formulate a system so that a recruiting agency submits the name of its sub-agent to BMET. In this way, middlemen can be made accountable," he added.
He urged the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agency (Baira) to be more proactive on the regularisation of middlemen.
Baira Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury said, "A huge number of middlemen are active in the destination countries. But they are totally unaccountable and it is a challenge to make them accountable."
Member of Parliament Anisul Islam Mahmud, president of the parliamentary committee on expat ministry, said, "Zero migration cost is not rational as there is some value of every service. But we have to ensure the best services with a reasonable migration cost."
Another lawmaker Shamim Patwary said, "The middlemen have a contribution in the process of connecting people to agencies. So, the word dalal [broker] should not be used for them."
Research conducted by RMMRU in 2017 revealed that 19% of aspiring migrants failed to migrate. Each of them lost Tk1.95 lakh on an average, and nationally the total amount loss was Tk2706.2 crore that year.
Meanwhile, 32 % of migrants faced hardship and fraud in destination countries.
Among others, Aroma Dutta, member of parliament; Md Shamsul Alam, director general of BMET; and Gerry Fox, a British Council official, spoke at the event.