Migration experts and stakeholders also call for Bangladeshi authorities to identify potential loopholes in the Government-to-Government (G2G) Plus recruitment system to help stop the syndicated monopoly which prompted Malaysia to come up with the move
Migration experts and stakeholders have said Bangladesh may temporarily suffer a fall in remittance inflows from Malaysia due to the latter’s decision to stop hiring Bangladeshi workers from September 1.
But an improved policy would likely improve the situation in the long run, they added.
They also call for Bangladeshi authorities to identify potential loopholes in the Government-to-Government (G2G) Plus recruitment system to help stop the syndicated monopoly which prompted Malaysia to come up with the move.
Marina Sultana, director of programs at the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) at Dhaka University, said remittance inflows from Malaysia would be tight until manpower exports resume.
“For the last two months, remittances from Malaysia have been falling, and this will drop even further from September 1. However, fresh recruitment after a revised policy will put an end to the abuse by a syndicate that controls manpower exports to Malaysia,” she said.
“I would prefer not to describe the situation as completely negative, since it is possible that Bangladeshi workers will not have to pay excessive money to agents after the reforms,” she added.
The RMMRU official suggested that the Bangladesh side also start assessing the G2G Plus system to identify and address major shortcomings in the process.
G2G Plus is a labour recruitment mechanism under which only 10 recruiting agencies have sent about 200,000 Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia since March 2016.
Sector insiders allege that these 10 agencies have established an oligopoly whereby they take up to Tk400,000 from each worker, flouting the rate of Tk160,000 set by the government.
According to media reports, the south-east Asian country’s decision was prompted after allegations emerged of a syndicate charging exorbitant fees from Bangladeshis seeking jobs in the Malaysian labour market.
Malaysia will stop using the Foreign Worker Application System (SPPA) to hire Bangladeshi workers, conforming to a decision made at a meeting of the Special Committee on Foreign Worker Management on August 14 chaired by its Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The Malaysian government has two online systems – the Integrated Foreign Workers Management System (IFWMS) and the SPPA – to make it easy for employers to recruit foreign workers.
The SPPA was created specifically for the intake of Bangladeshi workers, while the IFWMS was used for all other countries.
“Any decision on the matter will be taken after a full study, and the implementation will have to be approved by the Cabinet,” Malaysian Home Ministry Deputy Secretary General (policy and control) Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said in a letter to Synerflux Sdn Bhd, one of the local companies involved, as reported by Malaysian newspaper The Star.
He said the government had also agreed that affected employers would be allowed to get refunds, the newspaper said, adding that Malaysia would create a single system to hire foreign workers without differentiating between source countries.
The Star had earlier reported that Bangladeshi workers paid RM20,000 each to their local agents, who then paid half the sum to a syndicate to facilitate work permit approvals and flight tickets to Malaysia.
Dr Namita Halder, secretary of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, recently told reporters that the development may help reduce the cost of sending manpower to Malaysia.
She also claimed that the suspension of the G2G Plus arrangement will not hamper manpower exports to Malaysia.
Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) Senior Vice President Mohammed Faruque said they too support the Malaysian government’s move to review the G2G Plus system.
“I think the mostly poor fortune-seekers who apply for work in Malaysia will benefit from the move. They are robbed of a huge amount of money by the agents luring them with jobs in Malaysia,” he said.
Faruque also hinted that some government and BAIRA officials are may be linked to the scam.
“That would explain why only 10 recruiting are assigned to export manpower to Malaysia,” he said.
On Sunday, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) expressed concern over the Malaysian government’s decision to stop recruiting Bangladeshi workers.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said: "We are deeply concerned about the decision to stop recruiting Bangladeshi migrant workers by Malaysia, but at the same time, we urge the Bangladesh government to see the decision as a positive measure to stop the monopoly and syndicate-based immoral business.”