Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday asked Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen to place a comprehensive report over sending back the stranded expatriates to their overseas workplaces.
While presiding over the weekly Cabinet meeting held virtually, the Prime Minister came up with the instruction as some 141,000 Bangladeshi expatriates returned home in 2020 amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sheikh Hasina joined the meeting through a videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban, while other cabinet members got connected from the Bangladesh Secretariat.
“At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister went for unscheduled discussions on overseas employment and asked the Foreign Minister to place a comprehensive report at the next Cabinet meeting over how the stranded expatriate workers can be repatriated, be reemployed in proper ways, and the new overseas job markets can be explored,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at a press briefing after the meeting.
There are some potential job markers like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for Bangladesh’s workers, he said.
According to the data placed at the Cabinet meeting, a total of 141,046 Bangladesh workers returned home in 2020 and 88, 586 of them came with out-passes or travel passes, he said.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment presented its future work-plan over manpower export and the scenario of overseas jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the number of returnees is not an alarming one for Bangladesh as around 1 crore Bangladeshi expatriates stay abroad and a good number of the expatriates travel back to the country regularly.
Some 181,273 Bangladeshi workers went abroad in the past eight months till August 2020, while the number was 406,962 during the same period last year.
In 2019, some 700,159 Bangladeshi workers went abroad and the government had a plan to send 750,000 workers abroad in 2020, the Cabinet Secretary added.
Despite the global outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the remittance inflow in the last fiscal year (2019-20) was US$ 18.21 billion, which is 9.6 percent higher than the amount of the previous fiscal year, he said.
About the stranded Saudi returnees, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen informed the Cabinet that he talked to his Saudi counterpart on Sunday and requested to allow the operation of a greater number of Saudi and Biman flights and extend the 24-day visa renewal deadline.
Though the time for visa renewal was extended several times, the Saudi authorities assured Bangladesh of considering the further time extension, said the minister.