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TIB: Migrant visa process highly corrupt

  • Published at 08:44 pm March 9th, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:12 pm March 9th, 2017
TIB: Migrant visa process highly corrupt
Rampant corruption by government officials is pushing up the visa processing cost for aspiring migrant workers by up to five times than the government-fixed rate, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman has claimed. “Nine out of every 10 migrant workers are victims of corruption,” he said, while unveiling the findings of a research – “Good governance in labour migration: problems and way forward” – in Dhaka on Thursday. The government officials, working for the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry, are allegedly linked to local and international syndicates of middlemen engaged in this sector, the corruption watchdog claims. The TIB has observed that steps taken by the government to stamp out corruption in this sector are not enough. Every year thousands of Bangladeshis go abroad for work. The remittance they send back is one of the mainstays of the economy. Last year, the country received $13.61bn and in 2015, $15.32bn. [arve url="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2U3ygHCS0secUNZZ05ueW02WUE/preview"/] In reply to a question, the TIB official claimed the whole process had been “controlled by a number of syndicates” with links to the ministry, visa offices, migration authorities and officials of the destination countries. The report states that the ministry issued 61,122 visas for different countries in 2016. But the corrupt officials realised Tk13,000-15,000 from every person to approve their visa applications. Some Tk5,234 crore was laundered from Bangladesh during the process last year to bribe middlemen working in different countries with the local syndicates, the findings reveal. The Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training processed as many as 757,731 visa applications in 2016, and the TIB has found that the applicants had to pay Tk100-200 as bribe for each application. During verification of these applications, the policemen had to be bribed between Tk500 and Tk1,000, the report adds. The report reveals, for instance, that the government has set the visa processing fee for Saudi Arabia at Tk1.6lakh, yet each migrant worker pays at least Tk5lakh, an additional 89.25% outside the actual cost. [caption id="attachment_51507" align="aligncenter" width="800"]TIB reveals the findings of a 2016 research report on corruption in the labour migration sector, claims steps taken by the government to stamp out corruption are not enough Dhaka Tribune TIB claims steps taken by the government to stamp out corruption are not enough Collected from TIB's Facebook page[/caption] Iftekharuzzaman emphasised ensuring accountability of the government officials and related private offices involved in the visa process and adopting specific policies to tackle corruption. He suggested that the police verification system be abolished. “The middlemen-based visa processing system in this highly corrupt sector must be withdrawn gradually,” he said. Stern measures must be taken immediately against these syndicates to change the corrupt image of the migration sector, the TIB official added. The government has taken steps such as decentralisation of services, smart cards, online visa processing and checking, launch of a fingerprint project and a complaint cell for female labourers, the report shows. The research points to the need for necessary institutional capacity building, a supplementary budget, and skilled manpower, as well as proper monitoring of the visa selling and buying system, as the Bangladesh visa process is lengthy and is based on an agencies and brokers system. The government has not finalised visa fees of different countries from Bangladesh for migrant workers, and issues such as the lack of relevant written evidence of visa process expenditures, taking on more interested labourers against the actual number asked for in the announced vacancy, and the labourers’ lack of knowledge of the visa process inflate the cost of labour migration in the country, it further shows.
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